Deaf Sports Stars22nd November 2014

Deaflympics Cycling Star Returns to British Competition

After 2 years competing in Belgium, Tom Smith returns to cycling on the roads of Britain

by Sarah Lawrence

2015 will be a year to watch for deaf cyclist Tom Smith. After a 4 year hiatus from racing due to back surgery followed by 2 years of living and racing in Belgium under his belt, the fiercely determined and highly motivated Tom is returning to Great Britain to continue his racing career with a British Professional Team for 2015, thereby competing in Britain’s biggest races.

Tom’s team (to be announced at a later date) will also be talking part in the British Cycling Spring Cup and Grand Prix Elite Road Series throughout the year, so Tom will be putting his experience and physical prowess to the test, as he did to win a silver medal in the 2013 Deaflympic Road Race. Speaking to Tom about these new events, he said, “Elite road racing in Britain has stepped up quite a bit since I last raced full time here back in 2007. There are more professional teams whereas back then you had 1 or 2. The setup of the teams is very professional in terms of bikes, clothing, equipment, logistics. It’s almost on par with the European circuit which is great to see.”

“The impact of having Sir Brad and Chris Froome winning the Tour de France, and obviously the Olympic success in cycling has had a huge impact on the way the public look at cycling now. The biggest impact has to be that cycling, even on a national level, is shown on ITV4 and British Eurosport. When I was 12, I can remember being lucky to even see a 30-minute highlight programme on S4C”.

As a Deaflympic and European medallist in the Points Race discipline, Tom will be looking to use his experience and sharpness to make an impact on the Tour Series City Centre Races. Tom said, “Living in Belgium for the past 2 years has been great. The kermesse style racing is similar to the circuit racing that I will experience in the Tour Series. I kept up with the Tour Series on iplayer and it looks interesting. I’m intrigued to know how my tactical skills will play out after coming back from Belgium style racing”.

I asked Tom if he had any other targets for the year. “The biggest one has to be the Deaf World Championships. The Points Race and Road Race are my biggest targets. I will of course also be riding the British Road Race Champs - I missed out this year as I couldn’t afford to come home for the event.”

Probably the most challenging aspect of Tom’s 2015 season will be fund raising. Unlike mainstream and Paralympic elite sports stars, Tom does not get paid a salary to ride for his team and so has to fall back on his Personal Training business to pay for everything that a cyclist will need, including his food and rent. “I have been self-employed now for 3 years and will be looking to increase my client list a lot. I have had great success in helping a client win a race in his first year of Duathlon racing, and in the process gaining himself selection for the European Championships. I have also helped other clients lose weight and get their eating habits right which have benefitted them and their families.”

Racing on the professional scene and working full-time will be hard for Tom so he has set up a Go Fund Me page to help with his fund raising. Any donations will go towards helping Tom get the best out his racing and training in 2015 and give him the opportunity to fly the flag for British based Deaf sports starts who are often competing against fully funded athletes from other countries, where Deaf athletes attract the same Government support as their Paralympian counterparts.

If you would like to support Tom go to:

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Stars

22nd November 2014