Tokyo golden couple Neil and Lora Fachie happy with comparison to Kennys

The pair rediscovered their shared passion for sport, riding together during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ed Elliot
Saturday 28 August 2021 13:54
Golden couple Neil and Lora Fachie enjoyed an unforgettable day in Japan (ParalympicsGB/imagecomms/PA)
Golden couple Neil and Lora Fachie enjoyed an unforgettable day in Japan (ParalympicsGB/imagecomms/PA)

Golden couple Neil and Lora Fachie are more than happy to be dubbed the ‘Kennys of the Paralympics’ after each storming to glory on a fairytale day of track cycling at Tokyo 2020.

Scotsman Neil and pilot Matt Rotherham powered home in world-record style in the men’s B 1000m time trial, before Liverpool-born wife Lora and her tandem guide Corrine Hall remarkably matched the feat just minutes later in the women’s B 3000m individual pursuit.

The exceptional quick-fire successes on the final day of racing at the Izu Velodrome swiftly drew comparisons with decorated duo Jason and Laura Kenny who have won 12 Olympic golds combined.

While the Fachies, who are both visually impaired, have each won previous Paralympic titles, they have never come at the same Games, let alone on the same date.

“The Kennys are an incredible family so to be even in the same sentence as them is amazing,” said 37-year-old Neil.

“Lora and I have had mixed success over the years: I won in London, she lost out due to a mechanical; she won gold in Rio and I failed there.

“We thought the moment might not actually happen when we both won gold.

“The fact that she just obliterated the world record, and I have as well – nobody even dreams of this, it’s way beyond anything you can imagine.

Laura (left) and Jason Kenny have won 12 Olympic gold medals between them (David Davies/PA)

“I knew how hard Lora works, she’s been fighting for this, and she deserves every bit of it.”

Victory for Neil – in an unprecedented 58.038 seconds – pushed compatriot James Ball and his pilot Lewis Stewart into silver, securing his fourth Paralympic medal following a gold and silver at London 2012 and another second-placed finish at Rio 2016.

Lora then completed an extraordinary story at a venue located around 90 miles outside the Japanese capital by carving around eight seconds off her previous best to retain the crown she won in Brazil under her maiden name, Turnham.

She and Hall clocked 3:19.560 in a head-to-head final with Ireland’s Crawley-born Katie-George Dunlevy, while ParalympicsGB debutant Sophie Unwin and pilot Jenny Holl won bronze.

In 2017, Neil feared his career may be coming to an end when he lost two world titles, while Lora put plans to start a family on hold following the rescheduling of the current Games.

The pair rediscovered their shared passion for sport, riding together during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been a tough year for everyone. Some people have retired from sport and both of us thought that it might be it for us after Tokyo,” said Neil.

“We’ve now both got this renewed love for cycling. I don’t know what happens for us going forward now, we have to sit down and have a think.

Neil Fachie and Lora Turnham during the 2016 homecoming (Jane Barlow/PA)

“It’s been a tough year, but actually for Lora and me, it’s been a great year. It was a chance to reset.

“We did long rides in lockdown and Lora was absolutely destroying me. I’m a sprinter, I don’t do long rides!

“I was getting up knackered every morning doing three or four-hour rides, I’d get up in the morning and Lora would say: ‘Here we go again!’ But it made me so fit and I really enjoyed it, it was just fun, there was no pressure.

“I can see why she’s a Paralympic champion.”

Success in the C1-5 mixed team sprint rounded of an unforgettable day for ParalympicsGB, leaving them top of the track table with 14 medals, including six golds.

Lora, 32, who also picked up a bronze in Rio, said: “It is special to have done it alongside Neil.

“I’ve never successfully defended a title before so I’m just delighted and it’s been an incredible day.

“For me, it’s been a childhood dream to be a world record holder and I now am.”