Scots cyclist Neil Fachie admits age might finally be catching up with him after settling for silver in his signature event at the Paralympic Games.
The 32-year-old Aberdonian arrived in Rio brimming with confidence ahead of the defence of his tandem 1,000m time trial title.
Since joining forces with pilot Pete Mitchell, following the retirement of long-time partner Barney Storey after London 2012, Fachie has been unstoppable – winning double gold in the tandem sprint and time trial at the last three World Championships.
But Dutch teenager Tristan Bangma – a slip of a lad at just 18 – proved just too quick over the super-fast Siberian pine that has proved such a happy hunting ground for British cyclists this summer.
He laid down a Paralympic record of 59.822 with pilot Teun Mulder to put the pressure right back on Fachie and Mitchell, the last bike riders on the track.
The pair powered off the start but were always fractionally behind and would have needed to get much closer to their two-year-old world record to snatch the gold. “It’s a bit bittersweet because we obviously wanted that gold medal, that’s what we’ve been working so hard for in training,” said ten-time world champion Fachie, who is scheduled to compete in the road race before switching attentions to planning his October wedding to team-mate Lora Turnham.
“We laid everything down there and we’re happy with the performance and we can’t have any complaints about a silver medal.
“We knew when we headed out there that the Dutch had nearly nailed it and produced a fantastic time. When you lose out to a world-class performance like that you can’t have too many complaints.”
Another Scottish world champion had to settle for silver but para-triathlete Alison Patrick and guide Hazel Smith were still smiling.
Australia’s Katie Kelly produced a textbook race to win gold while the visually-impaired Dunfermline athlete struggled in searing temperatures. She exited the swim in first place but was soon overtaken on the bike only for a strong run to secure silver.
“It was so hot and we just emptied everything out there,” she said. “Obviously we all wanted gold but we’ve no complaints about a silver.”
Gordon Reid started his bid to follow fellow Scot Andy Murray and land a Wimbledon and Paralympic double with a confident 6-1, 6-2 win over Dan Wallin to make the men’s wheelchair tennis singles quarter-finals.
“I’ve been watching all my team-mates play the past few days just itching to get on court,” he said.
“I’ve proved how I can really perform on the big stage and I thrive on large stadiums and crowds as I want to show off our sport and let people see how fantastic wheelchair tennis is.
“I was lucky to have amazing backing at Wimbledon when I won the inaugural title there and I’ve got about 20 friends and family out here all dressed in Team Reid items and chanting. I don’t find it distracting at all, it just spurs me on.”
Elsewhere, ParalympicsGB claimed their best ever Games medal haul in rowing with three golds and a bronze on the Lagoa lake, including gold for Northallerton’s Laurence Whiteley in the mixed double scull alongside partner Lauren Rowles.
The 25-year-old took up the sport after recovering from osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer but his plans to compete in Rio looked set to be scuppered last year.
The only Paralympic class open to him was the mixed double sculls and Whiteley couldn’t find the right partner, training alone in hope while team officials frantically played matchmakers.
Then, last year, teenage wheelchair racer Rowles, 18, made the switch from athletics to rowing and Whiteley had his girl. Now he’s got his medal too.
“At times I thought walking away and finding someone else would be easier to do,” he said. “After all that to be Paralympic gold medallist, I’d absolutely do that again in a heartbeat.”
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