As Gordon Allan prepares to fly out to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the 2024 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, he made a confession that said a lot about his mindset – and the iron-willed commitment of Australia’s Paralympians.

The confession? Well, brace yourself because it’s this: there’s apparently a weird satisfaction in plonking your head inside of a plastic bin after a heavy training session and . . . heaving.

“Throwing up happens more regularly as you get closer to a competition,” said Allan, who won the bronze medal for the C2 1000m at last year’s world championships which were staged in Glasgow, Scotland.

The 25 year old – who has cerebral palsy and discovered his passion for cycling as a 12-year-old who was dared to ride his mate’s brand-new bike down a hill – stressed he doesn’t enjoy the actual act vomiting. He insisted it was the effort that leads to the act that leaves a strange sense of satisfaction.

“Some training sessions are easier than others, but there’s always a session where you feel as though you’re going to throw up – but you don’t,” he said, while probably wishing to himself that he was never asked about the subject.

“It’s never nice, but, yeah, afterwards, it is kind of satisfying . . . weirdly enough . . . to know you’d put in so much effort and worked so hard.”

Indeed, with the 2024 Paris Games on the horizon, Allen is pushing himself hard. Everything he does is geared towards fulfilling his dream of winning a prized Paralympic medal.

“At last December’s Nationals I rode a big PB – the fastest in three years – so I’m coming off a good ride there, and I’m hoping to back it up again,” he said. “I want to show it wasn’t a one off, and I want to do it again and hopefully book my spot to the Paralympics.

“I have to keep putting in the hard work and dedication in with Paris being only a few months away, I’m making sure that I’m eating smart, sleeping well, training hard, and recovering properly.

“In the lead up to my [Nationals] PB we really dialed up my nutrition. I tried to put on some mass; really threw myself into the gym and it’s paid off.

“I’ve done a lot of work with the NSWIS staff . . . Holly Edstein in Nutrition . . .  Chris Brandner from Strength and Conditioning as well as physiotherapist Matthew Sweeney and the medical staff since last year’s world championships.

“There’s not much of an opportunity to switch off yet. We’ll get through worlds and maybe I’ll be able to relax a little bit and build towards Paris. My view is it’s all one step at a time and while Paris is the main goal, I’m, yeah,  just focussing on one step at a time.”

Allan described returning to Rio – where he made his world championships debut in 2018 – as symbolic, and an invaluable chance to assess how far he’s come in the last six years.

“I was very green back then,” he said. “I remember going there and feeling so surprised . . . overwhelmed . . . at being at my first world championships. The approach was one of excitement, but this time I’ll be there to win.

“I’m there to claim medals. It’s a vastly different approach to 2018. I’ve grown. I have learnt a lot more about myself since then; things like how to do well and how to get the best out of myself – not just on the bike but off the bike as well for the preparation, the recovery. You accumulate these lessons with age.”

And while he competed at the Tokyo Paralympics – where he finished fifth in the men’s 100m time trial C1-2 (C2) in 1.10.331 and ninth in the mixed 750m team sprint C1-5 event – Allan said he had worked out his approach to coping with the pressure.

“There’s enough pressure about Paris as it is,” he said. “So, the way I’m looking at it [as I try to lay down my time] I trend to see it as a reward for the hard work I’ve invested.

“I believe when you enjoy what you’re doing it you do better.”

Daniel Lane, NSWIS

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