AFTER years of success on home soil, Korumburra’s Alex Welsh is working hard to make it big on the world stage, with his sights set on the 2020 Paralympic Games.
The 24-year-old has been climbing the ranks of Australian paracycling since 2011, and recent successes in Europe, representing the Leongatha Cycling Club in the ParaCycling Tour of Upper Austria and the Cologne Classic in Germany, have spurred him on to push for his ultimate goal: representing Australia at the highest level.
“The Paralympics is definitely a goal of mine,” Alex said after returning to Australia recently.
“And with this recent trip, I got more experience overseas, and against some of the best handcycle racers in the world.”
Alex placed third overall in the four-stage race in Austria and sixth overall in his class in an individual time trial and road race in Germany, and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to push his cycling to a new level.
“I tried to go over there with not too many expectations. I had a lot of support from the
[Leongatha Cycling] Club but I travelled all on my own, and it was a win just to get to the start line.
“It was a great experience and I’m really happy with my results. It was good to see where I was able to stack up. Just knowing where I sit, and where my potential lies.”
Once a promising motocross competitor, Alex suffered spinal cord injuries in 2009, when he crashed off a jump during a practice session.
The accident left him with a diagnosis of T7 complete paraplegia, but after a long haul of recovery and rehab, he’s not only adapted to life in a wheelchair but embraced a new world of opportunities in disability sport.
He placed sixth in his first ever handcycle race at the National Handcycle Series in 2011, and has since notched up dozens of wins including back to back Para-Cycling National Championships in 2015 and 2016.
He’s also a passionate advocate for spinal cord research, and an ambassador for the Wings for Life World Run.
With a commitment to training hard, and a new confidence competing in the international field, Alex is hopeful he’ll be able to make it onto the Australian paracycling team and to the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.
“I train six days a week with specific indoor training sessions, outdoor riding in the hills around Korumburra, plus strength and flexibility sessions in the gym.
“I’m always trying to be better. With my background in motocross, I’ve always been fairly competitive, so post-injury it’s been great to find another passion.
“I just love to ride my bike, go racing and test myself, and all the scenery and everything that goes along with it. I don’t really know anything else. I started riding pushbikes at three and motorbikes at five.
“Ideally, I would love to be on the Australian team, but they’re very high calibre athletes, so we’ll see what opportunities come up over the next year with the Nationals and World Championships.
“I’m very pleased with how the trip [to Europe] went, and I’m just enjoying my cycling. I’m working with [wheelchair company] Push Mobility in Melbourne, but I still spend a lot of time in Korumburra seeing friends and riding in the hills. Life’s really busy, but it’s great. I wouldn’t have life any other way.”
To stay updated on Alex’s progress, head to www.facebook.com/alexwelsh91 or www.instagram.com/alexwelsh91
Welsh set to take on the world