Cycling

Jaco Van Gass: Ex-Forces Cyclist Sets Sights On Next Year's Paralympic Games

The para-cyclist says he is trying to use the Games' delay to his advantage.

Top ex-military para-cyclist Jaco Van Gass is hoping to achieve his dream of competing at the Paralympic Games next year.

The former paratrooper says he was "on track" to appear at this year's Games in Tokyo before it was postponed until 2021.

Van Gass' military career ended after suffering a severe injury in Afghanistan in 2009.

The cyclist missed out on a spot at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio but has gone on to win three world titles this year.

The postponement was a blow to his momentum as he felt he was ready to go.

He told Forces News: "I feel and believe that I was on great track to be on the team.

"What it has created is a bit of a reset or reconfiguration of our training, and given us other opportunities to look into what we call the 'marginal gains'.

"I felt in a good place and a good mind-set physically and mentally to have been ready for this year."

Despite a successful year, Van Gass is using a silver medal at the World Para Championships in Canada as extra motivation.

In the 3km race, he was just inches away from victory but had to settle for second place.

Van Gass, who used to serve in the Parachute Regiment, is one of the forces' leading para athletes.

"It’s given me that extra motivation," he said.

"Crossing that line so close to the other rider and looking up at the scoreboard to see my name in second - that initial reaction was disappointment.

"I gave the best I can and I was fairly beaten on that day but I knew in that moment as well that there was more to come from me.

"There was a number of things which I knew I could look into to turn that half a second into my advantage."

He added: "It kind of fuelled a bit of a fire and it keeps me hungry to work hard and to put the time and the effort in to go and hunt that gold medal."

He added: "I’ve been chasing this dream for a very long time. It’s coming up to probably seven years now with the extension.

"I’m a project from the London 2012 legacy. I was a spectator there and I sat there going, ‘I want to be part of that’ and that’s how my passion for it grew and I tried different sports.

"Cycling has always been a big part of my life but that was the one I naturally veered towards."

Cover image: Jacon van Goss in action in 2019 (Picture: PA).