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Para cycling

Silke Pan: competitor and ambassador for UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Yverdon

Silke Pan in the Grimsel Pass, Switzerland
Silke Pan in the Grimsel Pass, Switzerland

Silke Pan will not only be competing for honours at the second round of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Yverdon, Switzerland: she is determined to share her love of the sport that has taught her to make friends with her body.

It was not a difficult decision for Silke to accept the request from the organisers of Yverdon to act as ambassador for this three-day event that reunites the best para-cyclists in the world.

“It is a pleasure to take on this role, and also a responsibility to show what the sport is all about. I want to share my passion.”

The former circus artist, paraplegic since falling from a trapeze in 2007, has catapulted to the forefront of the international handbike scene since taking up the sport competitively in 2012. She currently tops the UCI Para-cycling H4 ranking after a series of victories in the first half of the year.

But it is not the competition that drives the talented athlete to surpass herself in her sport.

Deeper than a desire to win

“Even the person who comes last in a race is a hero. That person has made enormous efforts just to get to the start line. I’ve seen people who have made me want to give them my medal.

“People with a handicap can realise their dreams and even make others dream.”

While Silke Pan once dreamt of Rio 2016, she has realised that top-level international competition is no longer the avenue she wishes to pursue. Her decision stems from the difficulties she has encountered as a German athlete living in Switzerland.  Suffering from a lack of integration into the German team and worn out from battling to make her own way, she has decided to take up different challenges.

“But I will never give up the handbike. It is a wonderful sport that has helped me find harmony with my body. My body is no longer a heavy burden. It’s not easy to live in a wheelchair and the handbike is a form of liberty. It has helped me overcome my sadness.”

The 42-year-old athlete plans to set her own challenges, and has a great many projects in mind, such as organising fundraising rides over the mythical Tour de France mountain passes and cycling through the Dolomites.

“I will still need to stay in top physical shape. Projects like this will help me continue doing the sport I love and also raise money for different foundations.”

Curtain call in Yverdon

Administrative problems and injury marred her performance at the first round of the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Maniago, Italy, last weekend. But in true fighting spirit, Silke Pan means to give her all in Yverdon, which will be her last Elite international competition.

“I will start in Yverdon with a clear mind. I am an ambassador for this event and I feel happy and at home in Switzerland.”

As ambassador, she has had numerous meetings with the Organising Committee, attended press conferences, and given her advice on the lay-out of the courses. This week, together with her husband, coach and mentor Didier Dvorak, she is manning an information stand at a local commercial centre in Yverdon.

“The Organising Committee in Yverdon are fantastic and I have really enjoyed working with them.  I am looking forward to racing in Yverdon and showing people this sport that I love so much.”

The UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup gets underway in Yverdon-les-Bains on Sunday with the time trials, followed by the road races on Monday and Tuesday.

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