Katie Toft has Tokyo 2020 in her sights ahead of Para-cycling Road World Championships

Katie Toft
Katie Toft

Chinley rider Katie Toft has spent her life defying the odds and admits she can’t believe how far she has come ahead of the Para-cycling Road World Championships.

Chinley rider Katie Toft has spent her life defying the odds and admits she can’t believe how far she has come ahead of the Para-cycling Road World Championships.

Her parents were once told she would never walk but fast forward to 2019 and Toft, who was born with cerebral palsy, is a five-time world champion with her sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Having only burst onto the international scene in 2018, winning individual pursuit gold at the Para-cycling Track World Championships, the High Peak star is amazed by the speed of her own rise.

“If I could compete at Tokyo, it would just be fantastic – it’s that simple,” she said ahead of the Worlds, which begin on Thursday in Emmen, Netherlands.

“It would be ridiculous really considering my journey. I wasn’t ever the kid who was sporty. I liked the idea, I just couldn’t do it.

“I was the person in school who was always picked last in PE – I think I only really have a handful of good memories of doing sport in 12 years of school.

“I actually saw an old PE teacher the other week and she said to me, ‘You were the least likely person to go into sport!’ I just can’t believe I am where I am now.

“I’m competing at the same level as the people I aspired to be, and that is amazing.”

At last year’s Para-cycling Road World Championships in Italy, Toft won gold on the same day as one of her greatest inspirations, Britain’s most successful female Paralympian, Dame Sarah Storey.

She has since joined her cycling team, Storey Racing, where she is coached by Sarah’s husband, three-time Paralympic medallist Barney Storey.

For Toft, there is no better position she could be in – and she knows none of it would have ever been possible if she hadn’t had the courage to just get on the bike.

“I remember watching Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London growing up and always thinking, I would love to have a go at cycling, but I just never did,” said Toft.

“There’s so many athletes I remember watching and thinking I want to do that. I remember watching Rebecca Romero in Athens and thinking god, that’s fast, I want to go fast!

“When I watched London, I thought you know what, even if I don’t do that much with it, let’s just get on a bike – and it went a bit crazy from there!

“It was meant to just be fun, and it still is fun, but it’s gone further than I ever anticipated which is amazing.”

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