PARALYMPICS / Newsmakers

Cycling legend Michael Teuber aims for more heroics
By Ben Johnson
China Daily/The Paralympian Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-09-07 10:35


Cyclist Michael Teuber is favorite to defend his title in the 3km individual pursuit in Beijing and will also try to back up his Athens win in road time trial.

The 39-year-old German will use today's 1km individual track trial to prime his legs for his preferred event over 3km in the men's individual pursuit bicycle LC4 division at the Laoshan Velodrome on Tuesday.


As the defending world and Paralympic champion, he is confident of edging out his closest rival, Italian Paolo Vigano, over the 3km.

"I'm the world record holder and I hope I can break it and win the gold medal," he told The Paralympian this week a few days after arriving in Beijing.

"My goal is to make one gold and another medal and I'm satisfied with that, and if I make two medals I'm very happy. These Games in Beijing are very high level, the third biggest event in the world, and to be part of it and win double gold or a medal would be fantastic."

Teuber says he is in the best shape of his life after a year of ideal preparation, but faces a formidable opponent in Vigano over the longer road distance.

"It's the same the other way around - Vigano is the defending world champion and I'm the Paraympic champion. He won twice last season and I won once. He won the worlds and I won the Pan-American Championships."

The inspirational rider broke two lumbar vertebrae in a car accident that left him with incomplete paraplegia in 1987.

Despite some fleeting moments of despair in the months after, he vowed not to wallow in self-pity and went on to become a professional athlete.

He was soon winning downhill mountain bike races and went onto win 11 world titles in five different disciplines of paracycling.

"Of course there were moments, obviously it was frustrating, and I thought how can I carry on," he recently said in an Internet video post. "But those moments were relatively brief and I always came to my senses fairly quickly, and said, 'OK, even if I have a handicap, you must still have a good life and make the most of it'."

His crowning glory came in Athens when he scooped double gold at the home of the ancient Olympics.

"Of course it was a brilliant moment in 2004 but just as important was having made it from being in a wheelchair to a bike and being able to walk again."

Teuber has won gold medals at four European and three world championships, making him one of the most successful Paralympic cyclists of his era.

He was nominated for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability in 2003 and 2004, and plans to extend his career to the London Games in 2012.

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