Neil Fachie feels the Paralympics is the event where he hasn’t done himself justice and is determined to change that.
The Aberdonian track cyclist and pilot Matt Rotherham compete in the Tandem B 1KM time-trial at 3am on Saturday in Tokyo.
Fachie claimed gold in this event at the London games in 2012 and silver in Rio de Janeiro four years later.
The 37-year-old also won a silver in the Tandem B Sprint in London.
Although that is an impressive medal return, Fachie – who has won 14 World Championship gold medals and four Commonwealth gold medals – is determined to land another Paralympic gold.
The competitor, who has congenital eye condition retinitis pigmentosa, said: “The Paralympics is an event where I always feel I haven’t quite done myself justice.
“My gold in London was amazing, but my team-mates (Anthony Kappes and Craig MacLean) had a mechanical and I didn’t get to beat them on the track.
“I thought we may have done, but that didn’t happen, and then Rio didn’t go to plan and we got the silver.
“I want to have a games where we perform incredibly and beat everyone and put that small bit of doubt to rest.
“I’m at an age where I’m more mature and, win or lose, nothing will really change in life.
“I want to enjoy this experience and you never know if you’ll get another Paralympics or not.
“I’d like to think I would, but you never know what’s around the corner, so I want to enjoy it and make the most of what is an incredible thing being at a Games.
“There’s been a lot of talk about mental health and the stress athletes put themselves under so I think it is important to remember to enjoy the experience.”
Retirement thoughts not on Fachie’s mind
Given everything he has achieved on the track, if Fachie was to win gold at these Games, to some observers it may appear the perfect ending to a career in the saddle.
However, the man himself doesn’t have any plans to ride off into the sunset regardless of the result in Tokyo.
Fachie added: “In some ways it feels like the final thing I want to achieve.
“But at the same time, if everything goes to plan and we win the gold, I know afterwards I’ll still want more.
“Once you experience those highs, you want to keep chasing them again and again.
“It would be great to win, but I think to do that you’re going to have to break the world record.
“It’s the chance to do something great and it would feel like some form of completion in terms of my career.
“If the games had happened last year, there was a chance I might have said ‘enough’s enough.’
“But I’m loving it and I feel like I’ve been improving and, if we go quicker than I’ve ever gone in this race, then I’m inclined to think: ‘if you’re still improving, why walk away?’
“There’s the lure of the Commonwealth Games next year and in 2023 there’s the first combined World Championships with all cycling events in Glasgow, which I’d love to be part of, and then Paris (2024 Paralympics) is only a year away.
“There’s plenty going on to keep me interested and I’d like to keep going, but there are no guarantees in sport.”
‘Hopefully we’re both celebrating’
Fachie is in a unique position at the Paralympics with his wife Lora also competing at the Games.
She is riding in four events on both the track and the road in Japan.
Fachie said: “Lora’s got four events, so she could really dominate the household medal table if everything goes to plan.
“Her first event will be about 10 minutes after mine, so it could be an exciting few minutes for us.
“Then she’ll be racing on the road, but I’ve got to come back home because you get kicked out of Japan.
“Not many people get to have their wife with them on these trips, so I’m very lucky and I’m looking forward to seeing how she gets on.
“Hopefully we’ll both be celebrating.”