By Mitch Guy
BEAU Vernon’s inspirational journey continued over the weekend when he was crowned the National H1 Handbike Time Trial and Road Race champion at the Cycling Australia Para-Cycling Road National Championships.
Held in Williamstown, South Australia, Beau competed in the championships for the first time and won the 12.3km Time Trial in his category on Saturday with a time of 36:34.8, before winning the Road Race on Sunday with a time of 1h01:59.
The categories of the championships range from H1 athletes having the least amount of function to H4 athletes having the most amount of function.
“I love getting involved with a sport and hopefully in the future I can improve on it and get better and stronger,” he said.
“Any sport it takes a while to build up muscles and reach your potential.”
Beau has been training four to five times per week in the lead-up to the event, mainly on a wind cycle trainer at home.
He is eager to complete more training on the roads as he works towards his goal of competing at the World Championships.
“My category in Australia isn’t that competitive, so it would be interesting to see how I go on the world stage against people from Europe, Africa and the US,” he said.
“My goal would to be to try get to world champs in next few years and potentially Japan in four years’ time for the 2020 Paralympics.”
Beau will move back to San Remo with his wife Lucy this week, after resigning from his job as a risk and insurance officer at the AFL.
The couple are expecting a baby on March 24, and felt it was the perfect time to move back to the country.
“I want to get out of the city and get back to country – I’ve always wanted to get back to the rural areas so I can’t wait,” he said.
“Sitting behind a desk wasn’t really my thing but I’ve worked there for two years and it’s given me good confidence in my working ability.
“I’m going to do uni full time this year and do more public speaking. I’m looking at doing public speaking together with Lucy who’s a qualified psychologist.
Beau paid tribute to the support of the local community since his football accident in June 2012, which left him a C5-C6 quadriplegic.
“I really appreciate how I’ve been able to get into the sport of handcycling and it’s been really good for my mental health and that’s because of the great support from the community in the early stages,” he said.
“To purchase a handbike for someone that’s a quadriplegic with no hand function, we had to import a bike from the United States and it’s not cheap.
“I want to say a big thankyou to everyone for their support, it’s helped me get to where I am.”
Beau’s attention will now turn to coaching the Leongatha Parrots, who will open its season with a grand final rematch against Traralgon at Traralgon.
Alex Welsh wins back-to-back championships
Joining Beau at the National Championships on the weekend was Korumburra’s Alex Welsh, who won the Handbike H3 Time Trial and Road Race Championships for the second year running.
He won the Time Trial with a time of 30:24.4 on Saturday, just 2.6 seconds faster than his nearest rival.
Alex backed his performance up on Sunday to win the 49.7km Road Race with a time of 1h49:23.
He said he was stoked to defend his titles.
“My aim coming in was to defend both of them; I put a lot of focus on the time trial and the road race I hoped to do well as well,” he said.
“It was really close in the time trial. The other guy Michael and I are really close usually so it was nice to be on the good side of it.”
Alex has been competing at the National Championships since 2011 and recorded his first win last year.
He said he was thrilled to see Beau competing on the big stage.
“I try to provide support the best I can and help get new people involved,” he said.
“It’s always good to see one of the local guys get involved as well, representing the Leongatha Cycling Club.”