From France to the Paralympics

Newhaven mayor Graham Amy welcomes the cyclists to the UK.

Newhaven mayor Graham Amy welcomes the cyclists to the UK.

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SUSSEX welcomed a group of French disabled cyclists into Newhaven on Monday September 3 as they made their way to the Paralympics in London.

When they arrived this week they had covered 400 miles by bike from Pont-Audemer in Normandy.

The team consisted of nine disabled cyclists, nine buddies and nine organisers, who have been training for two years to complete the trip to the Paralympics.

There they will be spending four days supporting the Paralympic athletes taking part in the cycling, football, rugby, goalball, swimming and athletics.

The group set off from Pont-Audemer on August 29 and arrived in the UK on September 3.

As they started off from Lewes Road Recreation Ground, Newhaven, the group were joined by Kristina Veasey, the Seaford Paralympian who carried the Paralympic torch in the run up to the start of this year’s games.

They were also joined by East Sussex County Council assistant chief executive Simon Hughes, who acted as a “buddy” cyclist, sharing a tandem with one of the riders.

The county council has been working with French local authorities in promoting tourism and community cohesion.

The cyclists’ group approached the county council through these links to help with the English part of the trip

Kristina said: “What these cyclists have achieved is amazing.

“I was really excited to have joined them for this stretch of the route and to have the chance to take the Paralympic torch through our area.

“What they are endeavouring to do is a real show of the Paralympic spirit we all talk about. From France to London, quite a challenge - I hope they enjoy the Paralympic Games a much as they enjoyed their journey to get there!”

The group then cycled to Haywards Heath and then Crawley, where they were met by the chairmen of Mid Sussex District Council and Haywards Heath Town Council and the Mayor of Crawley.

On Tuesday they travelled to Coulsdon and then to London where they planned to spend the next four days as spectators at the Paralympic games before travelling home.