World at his wheels

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Anthony Kappes. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Anthony Kappes. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

Paralympic cycling hero Anthony Kappes is considering the future now that he has the world at his wheels.

The Chapel-en-le-Frith-born sportsman told the Advertiser that his next decision is the exciting prospect of being among the first Paralympic track cyclists ever to take part in a Commonwealth Games - and what to do about Rio in four years’ time.

In a wide-ranging interview, Kappes talks about the “emotional rollercoaster” of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and the thrill of winning gold in front of crowds who were as much a part of his once-in-a-lifetime experience as the gold medal itself.

Kappes and his pilot rider Craig Maclean posted a new world record on their way to winning the tandem sprint at the velodrome, beating Neil Fachie and Barney Storey in an all-British final.

The victory was particularly sweet as it came just 24 hours after Kappes and Maclean had been disqualified from the 1km time trial after suffering mechanical problems at the start of their run. The gold on that occasion went to their GB team-mates.

Speaking on his return to Manchester’s velodrome, Kappes, who is registered partially blind due to a genetic condition knows as retina pigmentation, struggled to put the whole experience into words.

“It’s been brilliant, and brilliant is selling it short,” explained the former Chapel High School pupil.

“The atmosphere in London and the support of the spectators, and the reception we got during the parade in London, is beyond words. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, but pleasurable.

“In our first race, the kilo, where we got disqualified from, that was stressful, a very bad day. But when we won the gold medal, emotions went from a real low to a real high.”

And on winning gold in London - the third of his Paralympic career - he said: “It’s my new proud moment. My proudest moment until then was winning my first Worlds jersey, but this gold medal, with it being at your home Games, it adds a sort of tangibility that you just can’t recreate anywhere else.”

Kappes, who currently lives in Hazel Grove due to its closer proximity to his Manchester training base, recently returned to his home town of Chapel to visit his parents - but admits he is yet to pay a visit to his gold postbox that has caused such a stir in the town.

“When I won the medal the question was ‘do you want your postbox in Chapel or Hazel Grove?’.

“Chapel’s where I grew up, so that seemed the right place to put it,” he said, adding: “The irony, though, is that I think that’s the only postbox in Chapel I’ve never posted anything at!”

The 39-year-old said he hoped the London Paralympics had put disability sport in the public consciousness and created a long-lasting sporting legacy.

On his own future in the sport, however, he is yet to commit to Rio in four years time - but admits he is intrigued by the prospect of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which will feature track para-cycling for the first time.

“I would never get an opportunity to do another Commonwealth Games, and its only up the road, so that’s a bit of a draw.” Kappes added.

“But of course the team are going to be thinking about Rio, and I’m going to have to give that some thought.”