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2008 Paralympic Games – Pre-Games Reports

September 5, 2008 (Beijing, China) – We can feel it, exactly 24 hours before the opening ceremonies the atmosphere is changing in the Paralympic village. This is something you can see, and feel from high level athletes; athletes who are ready to give it all for one goal: victory.

Training has been going well in the past few days for the Canadian para-cycling team. The times are dropping on the velodrome, a moral boosting positive result a few days before the start of the competition. During the final training camp held in Perth, Australia, our riders did not have too much reference as the track was really slow due to the cold temperature. Now, with the heat and the quality of the Laoshan Velodrome, many of our riders are even beating their personal best times.

Here is the list of our riders who will be competing on the track from September 7-10:

– Brian Cowie (with Devon Smibert)
РSt̩phane C̫t̩ (with Pierre-Olivier Boily)
– Daniel Chalifour (with Alexendre Cloutier)
РGenevi̬ve Ouellet (with Mathilde Hupin)
РJean Qu̩villon
– Braydon McDougall
– Mark Breton
– Eric Bourgeault

The road venue is also a beautiful one. We will be racing on the same course the triathletes used during the Olympic Games. The 12km course offers a challenging climbs, a few hard corners, and beautiful pavement – the table is set for a great event.

For the road events, all the track riders mentioned above will join hand-cyclists Rico Morneau, Mark Beggs and Shauna White in the time trial and road race events on September 12-14.

As for the Village, I’ll say it’s probably the best I’ve seen in all four major Games I’ve been to. It’s located just a few blocks away from the now famous Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube. The whole Olympic park is actually something to see, both during the day and at night.

We are ready. We know the cycling community, and more, is behind us, and no one would like to let you down. Thanks to many of you already for all the good luck messages.

We will keep you posted as much as possible from Sunday on!

Luc Arseneau, ChPC
Head Coach / AtlanticCyclingCentre

Arriving in Beijing

Well, the trip started well with a 14-hour flight from Newark to Beijing. With my six feet tall lankiness, once again, this meant my knees were pretty much in the spine of the person in front of me!

The first thing I realized once the plane lifted off the ground was that we were heading north! After 15 years of solid flying I figured I should head front and check the cabin’s wall for the pilot’s certificate. But after 3.5 seconds, I realized this guy doesn’t fly with a map, but with a globe! Brilliant those Chinese people! I was a little disappointed as I was hoping to check a few hula girls over Hawaii, but I’ll have to settle for Stephen Harper currently in meeting in the Great White North! Perhaps I’ll be able to scan the northern passage for him instead!

Once in Beijing it was now time to get into serious stuff. I arrived here with a 30-hour lead over the athletes to make sure everything would be ready for them. Since I had a few minutes to write this note I must be a little ahead of schedule. The village is beautiful and the volunteers are incredibly well prepared – it looks like everything will be running smoothly here.

Our 15 para-athletes and pilots should now be here soon, and I’m sure the energy level will increase in the village once they show up.

I’ll be sending messages during the next few weeks from Beijing to keep you posted on our stories, victories, and challenges; in short, not only our results.

Luc Arseneau, ChPC
Head Coach / AtlanticCyclingCentre

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