Newstalk Sport's Oisin Langan meets an athlete aiming to make an impact in the Velodrome
"You always think you have longer than you have but then suddenly you’re here."
Those are the words of cyclist Eoghan Clifford on how time has flown by in the build-up to the Paralympics in Rio.
The 36-year-old is making the most of his first and what he says is his last games, taking in three events. It was due to be four but a pre-game injury means the Galway based Limerick man is chasing three golds instead of four.
The Engineering lecturer at NUI Galway is a late-comer to Paralympic sport after getting an invite to the World Championships in 2014.
It’s an invite he is glad he accepted, collecting three world titles since. Clifford’s first event is the pursuit which he describes as an "intense 3 kilometre effort" and that will be followed by the road race and time trail. Preparations haven’t been ideal with his injuries as well as his degenerative muscle disease condition being managed carefully.
"It’s difficult to change the training. One requires a lot of explosive power so we do a lot of gym sessions and weights. The other requires a lot more endurance based work and that’s been the trick with training, trying to balance them together".
That seems like a hard balance and a heavy workload which could burn up much-needed energy and add to wear and tear on the body. But Clifford doesn’t think it’s a big deal, citing the impact the Velodrome has on his disability as the only real worry.
The only reason we get to grab a few minutes with Clifford is because he had to skip training as he manages his injuries. That’s not something that sits well with him, saying, "a danger for me is I hate taking days off. In my head I’m thinking am I missing out on training but we’ve done this in the past before for World Championships. I trust my coach and hopefully we can do it again."
When we chat with Clifford he leaves us in no doubt why he’s here: "My form has been bad due to injuries but over the last couple of weeks I can feel it coming again. It probably sounds like a bad thing to say but I’m not here for the experience. I’m here to win medals."
Even in our short conversation we can’t help but notice his level of drive and determination and while he says this is his first and only Paralympics, you can’t help but think it might be back for more regardless of what happens in the next few weeks.