Louis Rolfe will kickstart Paralympics year with a single-minded focus on the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.
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The 22-year-old Cambridge-based cyclist is part of a 23-strong British team for the event in Milton, Canada from January 30 to February 2.
It is the final major international track competition before the Tokyo Paralympics this summer, but Rolfe is not getting distracted by longer-term goals, he is clearly focused on the immediate task in hand.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet that it’s 2020, but I’m going into Canada treating it as my Tokyo,” he said.
“If I then get to go to Tokyo, it will be another added bonus. I’m putting everything I have into doing the best I can in Canada. If I do well here, then I’ve got a good chance of being selected for the Games which is obviously the big aim for the year. But I can’t think about Tokyo until I have done the job that I want to do in Canada.”
Rolfe ended last year on a high with a personal best and medal-winning display at the Manchester Para-cycling International, which followed a gold medal at the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Glasgow.
“I had quite a tough performance target to hit at the end of the year, and luckily I hit that,” he said. “Hitting that performance target has allowed me to believe in myself a bit more, and the sky’s the limit, as it were.”
At last year’s world championships, Rolfe earned the silver medal with Jody Cundy and Jon-Allan Butterworth in the team sprint, a result that helped re-evaluate his goals in the sport and provide more hunger to regain the winners’ jersey they held in 2018.
Rolfe is part of a five-strong squad for the team sprint, which includes Rio Paralympics gold-medal winning team-mates Cundy and Butterworth.
“We will mix the team up between qualifying and finals, I think, depending on how fast we go in each session so it should be quite interesting,” he said.
“It just shows the strength in depth we’ve got in that field at this current moment. It’s good to see.”
Rolfe will also race in the 3km pursuit and the 1km time trial in Canada.
Both will prove to be stern tests, especially in the 3km pursuit after recent results.
“The Australian C2 in my class put an absolutely amazing time down in Australia a couple of weeks ago,” said Rolfe.
“I have individual targets to hit in Canada so it’s a case of achieving them, and whatever place it gets me I will be happy with.
“I think it’s going to be hard to overhaul the power of the Aussies this time round, but Tokyo is another stomping ground, if I get the chance to go there.
“It was really fast conditions in Brisbane, and it was 14 seconds quicker than what I had done two weeks previously in Manchester. It’s a bit of a step on but I think it’s healthy for the sport. And, the sky’s the limit when it comes to performances.
“The kilo has been good to me in recent world champs. Getting a medal in 2016 in Montichiari was a real breakthrough moment for me.
“It allowed me to start believing in myself and my sporting ability. It’s been a good event for me over the last couple of years.
“I have narrowly missed out on the medals in the last couple of years as well, so it has been a strong challenge but not that strong that I get on the podium.
“Hopefully I will be able to go one better this year and get on the podium.”
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