We have another hard act to follow. The Team GB Olympic cycling squad set the bar high in Beijing four years ago and we raised our game when it came to the Paralympics. We won 17 golds.
They've had another successful Olympic Games, this time in London, so we've got the pressure on us to replicate what we did in Beijing. It will be hard to do that but we know we're in good shape. Our coach has been making notes of our PBs in his little diary and his marker is running out, so that's a good sign. There's no reason why we can't be at the top of our game, just as we were in Beijing.
We've had the same provision as the Olympic team at our holding camp in Newport and a lot of us are based up in Manchester alongside the Olympic guys. I train alongside Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Jason Kenny – all the superstars of the sprint world in British cycling – almost on a day-to-day basis at the velodrome in Manchester.
You watch them on TV and look up to them and find yourself on their back wheel in a warm-up ride. You're always striving to be the best you can be, and having the very best in the world at an Olympic level training in front of you, going through the same drills as you are, can only inspire you to emulate what they do and push yourself on to bigger and better things.
It is an amazing set-up. I don't think there's anywhere in the world where there are so many Olympic and Paralympic champions training together.
They're very supportive of what we do and we're very supportive of what they do. It's always amazing when you watch them compete and do well because you're following people you've trained alongside. You've watched them go through the pain, the throwing up into bins, all the things you have to go through yourself in preparation.
I've got the two events in London – the kilometre time trial today and the pursuit tomorrow morning. I'm also first reserve for the team sprint.
I've been lucky enough to win five golds – three of those in swimming. I was a swimmer when I made my Paralympic debut as a 17-year-old in Atlanta in 1996.
The transition to cycling was pretty seamless. I was getting towards the end of my swimming career and at the same time had just started training at cycling. I had a trial, won it, and two days later I was racing at the World Cup in Manchester.
I never thought the Paralympics would achieve the level of public interest that it has attracted leading into these Games. I can't wait to see the response as the Games unfold.
When I grew up I only ever knew about the Olympics. The Olympians were my heroes. There are going to be juniors out there in wheelchairs, maybe newly injured and in hospital beds, who are going to watch the Paralympics and be inspired by the names people are looking out for. And they'll kind of go: "You know what, life's not that bad. I can get on and do the same as these guys."
My first cycling hero was Chris Boardman when he won the individual pursuit at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. I followed him closely from then. I always thought I'd have a go in the velodrome and luckily I got that opportunity.
Another hero of mine has been Chris Hoy – just to see the things he's done over the years has been unbelievable. Before I even came into the cycling game, he was winning Olympic gold medals.Reuse content