YOU could say the clock is ticking for me again - only this time as an athlete, not a patient.

I have been given until the UCI Track World Cup in Glasgow in November and an international para race two weeks later to ride a 3km track time capable of winning a global medal.

If I can do it, British Cycling will take me to this January’s World Championships, and a path could open up for Paralympic qualification. If not, I may have to exit the British Cycling programme altogether.

When I travelled to Manchester this week to meet with the British Cycling team it was a conversation I knew was coming. There’s 15 guys and just ten spots.

I knew in my heart of hearts lying in my hospital bed that it might not be possible. It is one thing believing you can do it in your head and your heart and your legs telling you something different.

British Cycling have been great to me, supporting me through the toughest times of my life.


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I can’t thank them enough for standing behind me through three of my four tumours.

The other time, when I was first diagnosed in 2010, I recall the performance director at British Rowing wanting to remove me from the rowing team – even though I was a world champion at the time. Thankfully my coach Tom Dyson fought for me and I went on to compete at the London 2012 Paralympics.

So my head was spinning as I arrived at the velodrome. I feel I am living these two lives.

As I move along the path from patient to athlete, out of this safety net and back into the world of competition, the medical support becomes less and the performance support becomes more. This can be a pretty scary place when you have only just learned to walk – I only got off all my walking aids in June.

Part of me is focused on the mountain ahead, the targets needed to stay on the team. But even though I am now an athlete, I am also still a tumour patient, with MRI scans scheduled for next week, oncology the week after and then seeing my surgeon.

On one side of the coin I am trying to compete for GB and the other side of the coin I am fighting for my life. Like the flip of a coin no one really knows what side it’s going to land on.

I sit down with the team in one of the meeting rooms after a great talk with the team doctor. We came to the conclusion that I got on the plane to Jamaica a patient but came off it again an athlete.

The conversation was pretty relaxed. Essentially, I had three choices. Option A was to aim for January’s track world championships. Option B was to try for a 30-minute time trial at the road world championships in July, although I know I would need a good year and a half to get back to that shape.


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Option C was to medically leave the programme altogether.

But I didn’t want to do that. If I am here I am going to give it a crack. There’s probably people I was in radiation with who are not even alive now.

So the track it is – and those two chances I’ve got to convince the selectors that I am worthy of a world championship spot.

I know my chances are slim, actually more like one in a million. None of my team-mates or rivals took the winter off to have two neck surgeries - they are all in formidable shape. If making a games was easy then everyone would do it.

I also know in my heart that this would be totally achieveable if I had been able to train all winter. So it’s a hard pill to swallow as I read my medical notes thinking why Oxford didn’t treat me with radiation in 2016 or 2017. If they had done, I might not have needed surgery last year and missed a full year or training. But I can’t change all that now, the only thing I can do is try my hardest.

So it is cool. If this chapter ends in Glasgow, then I still get to ride in Chris Hoy’s velodrome at pretty much a home World Cup. There will be as many people there as at a home games.


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I’ll take that. If I ride an amazing time I get to go to the worlds. If I don’t, I won’t. And if I don’t make it in November and I exit the programme, then my next goal is to race as an independent. I don’t have to retire – and I don’t plan to. I know that if I am tumour free and I can have a couple of years training I know I can win medals.

So I am going to enjoy the next three months and go out and ride in Glasgow. To me getting the chance to race in Glasgow might just be bigger than going to the games. I’ve never competed there - I did my level 4 accreditation in there, but that was it.

I’ve sourced a track bike that I can use which is suited to my build and height, and jumped on a train back to London with a list of things to do and a plan which will unfold over the next few months, which will end on the track in Glasgow in November. There’s no time to waste.