Colbourne is going for a cycling grand slam in Rio
Gary Baker on 21/09/2012
Mark Colbourne's name was flashed around every house in the country and his picture portrayed in countless newspapers.
The Tredegar 42-year-old's story, of how he fell to earth with such a bump while paragliding off the Gower that he nearly died and was left with Dropfoot, has been recounted quite a few times in the last months.
Colbourne won gold and two silvers in this month's Paralympics after a remarkable rise from a bed in Rookwood Hospital, Cardiff.
That would be enough for any competitor to be happy with but, for Colbourne, it isn't. In the Brazilian sunshine city of Rio in 2016, Colbourne is aiming to become even more of a Paralympic hero by completing a feat which is pretty much unique.
He was praised by VIPs, along with the other Olympic and Paralympic medallists from an extraordinary sporting month, at the Welcome Home ceremony in Cardiff Bay this month.
Yet he will be back in training soon after taking a short break - with Rio and that amazing ambition at the forefront of his mind.
Colbourne won Britain's first medal - a silver - in the C 1-2-3 1Km Time Trial at the Velodrome in London and added gold in the C1 Individual Pursuit.
And, over the undulating course of Brands Hatch, which was not good for his disability and he still managed to claim a well-won silver in the C1 Time Trail.
Three medals it may be but Colbourne wants to defend his track gold, turn the 1Km silver into gold and add the C1 Road Race and Time Trial crowns to his haul. Quite an ambition.
In other words, said keen rugby follower Colbourne, it will be his Paralympic version of the Grand Slam. And who is to say he cannot do it, particularly with time, in one sense, on his side.
Colbourne said: "I had this dream of being in the Paralympics about two years ago when I knew my disability was not going to go away.
"I knew how fit and strong I was from racing triathlons and it was just a case of repeating the process.
"As a professional cyclist now, I want to continue to represent my country and race in P1 (Paralympic grading) events. My focus is now long term towards Rio.
"As long as I can stay fit, healthy and improving, I will be on course.
"I only had 18 months to prepare for London and, if you go back to September last year when I was picked in the World Class Performance squad, you can see that this was only a very short time.
"Now I have four years to get myself prepared and I have the drive and determination to succeed. And now I have the experience of a Paralympic Games to help me."
Colbourne did not know a great deal about how he was being portrayed around the country while in the Paralympics.
But everyone else - including coach Neil Smith, the man who persuaded him to get on a bike in the first place after he left Rookwood Hospital following his accident - did.
Colbourne was the man who restored the smile on Britain's faces with his gold medal just minutes after fellow Brit and former Swansea-based star Jody Cundy flew into a track-side rage when he was controversially denied a re-start on the track in the C4 Time Trial after his bike was, allegedly, caught in the starting gate.
Colbourne said the Games were unbelievable. "You get friends and family congratulating you and it's not until you get on the internet and see people around that you realise what you have done.
"In any professional sport, you can only give 100 per cent - there is no 101 per cent. If you give 100 per cent and you are second or third, that's all you can do and you have to move on.
"For me, I have always enjoyed sport, getting fit and competing. And when you compete at world level, you are not just there for yourself but for your family, friends and for your country."
So there is no resting on his laurels for the Tredegar bike man and it will soon be back into the saddle at his current base, the Manchester Velodrome, to pound the miles for four years before he gets the chance to go for that clean sweep of golds in Rio.
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