Home town honours Paralympian hero

Paralympic cyclist Anthony Kappes with pupils at Chapel High School
Paralympic cyclist Anthony Kappes with pupils at Chapel High School

PARALYMPIC gold medallist Anthony Kappes revealed he would swap all his cycling success for the gift of sight, during a visit to his former school.

Anthony, who is visually impaired, gave an inspiring talk to students at Chapel-en-le-Frith High School on Tuesday.

Responding to what he described as the “questions adults would never dare ask” he said it was important to give open and honest answers to the questions pupils posed.

He told them: “It would be churlish to say I am not happy with where I am in my life because I have had remarkable opportunities to do things and meet lots of interesting people.

“But I would much rather not have what I have got in terms of my cycling career and all the rest of it. I would much rather just be another normal person in the street with vision and ability to go on those hills every week. But you can’t choose what you get.

“I am visually impaired. I am going to go blind. I can’t change it. If this is the best I can do for that situation I am happy, I’ll take it because it could be an awful lot worse.”

Asked about any plans to compete in the 2016 games, the 39-year-old said: “I don’t know. One problem I think most British athletes will have is that never, probably in their lifetimes and certainly not in our careers, will there be another home games.

“So if you competed in London and have done well it is almost the case that you can’t possibly ever top that.”

Anthony, who won two gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, and his pilot Craig MacLean, were favourites to win two medals but were disqualified in the time trial.

“There is still an element of frustration now. I came back with a gold medal which I am very proud of but I went to London potentially winning two gold medals.”

He revealed that after the Games, which had been his main emphasis for four years, it had been almost been like a hangover. “Immediately after there is nothing to take its place.”

Attention will soon turn to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and it will be then that Anthony will decide if he will try to get to Rio. “If I have still got the ability to win and think I can go to Rio and win I would probably try to go.”

Anthony took two weeks off after the Paralympics and then spent a few weeks doing what he described as lazy training before returning to full training.

He said he did not want to let his fitness level drop too much as when you get older it is harder to get it back.

He revealed that if his sight deteriorates further he may have to look at swapping the velodrome for road racing.

During the visit, Anthony was presented with a community award from Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council in recognition of his efforts, which also saw one of the town’s post boxes painted gold to mark his medal win.