Bradley Wiggins launched Britain's summer of sporting success with his historic win in the Tour de France and his influence is still being felt. With the action due to start tomorrow in the Velodrome, the latest to cite the Wiggins effect is Rik Waddon, one of British cycling's golden hopes in the Paralympics.
The 35-year-old Waddon lives in Chorley, Lancashire, near Wiggins, who became the first British winner of the Tour in July before claiming Olympic time-trial gold at Hampton Court. Waddon's Mohican may not catch on like Wiggins' sideburns, but he hopes to emulate, at least in part, his neighbour's success.
"Bradley's one of my heroes, like Chris Boardman was in the 90s," said Waddon. "For him to come away with a Tour de France win and then go straight into the Olympics and get the gold, it's like 'Wow, I'll have a bit of that'. He lives in the next village to me. He's got the gold postbox in Chorley. I see that and just think I've got to go for it."
Wiggins's was the first of eight Olympic golds for Britain's cyclists in London, equalling their Beijing mark. Britain's Paralympic team won 17 cycling gold medals out of 44 events in 2008 and the squad of 19 riders is expected to challenge that tally in London.
"There's nothing to say that we can't do the same," said Waddon, whose wife Natalie is in Britain's Paralympic swimming team. "We've carried out the same processes as the Olympic guys over the last four years, but obviously you can't control what any other nation does."
Waddon, who has cerebral palsy, is set to compete in tomorrow's C1-C3 one-kilometre time trial, which is a factored competition due to a mixture of levels of impairment. Waddon, who won silver behind team-mate Darren Kenny in the event in Beijing, is a C3 rider, so must beat the calculators as well as his rivals to prevail. C1 riders have a greater degree of impairment so their times are factored the most. He said: "There's a lot of work to do there against a factoring system. I could end up winning, I could end up coming ninth."
On Sunday, the final day of track competition, Waddon will also ride in the team sprint with Kenny and Jon-Allan Butterworth, when Britain will be seeking to defend their Paralympic crown having lost the world championship title to China in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Waddon said: "The main event is the team sprint on Sunday. That's what I've been employed to do, that's what we've been working at all year since the guys were overturned by the Chinese in LA at the track worlds in February. We dominated that event for seven years – we want it back in London."
Like the Olympic cycling team, Britain's Paralympians completed final preparations at the Newport Velodrome and the omens are good. Chris Furber, lead coach of British Cycling's para-cycling team, said: "We've had a strong camp. I always mark in my book with a green highlighter if there's a PB [personal best] and there was a lot of green highlighter in there. Hopefully they will all come up well for competition."
Facts in figures
20 Number of sports contested in 11 days of competition.
503 Number of gold medals to be won during the Paralympics.
166 Participating countries. 204 nations took part in the Olympics.
300 Number of athletes competing for Team GB in the Paralympics.
4,200 Athletes set to compete. 10,820 competed during the Olympics.