5-Minutes With….Double Paralympic Champion Ben Watson
Congratulations on your success at the Paralympics. What are you doing now? – Well, after 5 years of training and preparation, I’m having a little bit of a break at the moment. Although already I am missing training, which is a good sign, I guess!
Was the Paralympics your first ever international Time Trial victory? Yes, I’d had lots of 2nd places. At the holding camp, everything seemed to be coming together. Going to Tokyo I knew I was in good form and that the course really suited me, with lots of climbs and technical sections.
You seemed to relish the appalling race conditions – Yes, the temperature the day before was 35 degrees. For the race it was 18 degrees. With all that training in the Peak District, I felt right at home in the torrential rain!
In your post-race interview, you said that 5-years ago you were sat doing a desk job, weighing +90kgs, which makes your achievements even more remarkable. How does that feel? It has been an awesome journey Thanks to the Lottery funding, I was able to make a lifestyle change. Instead of trying to squeeze ten to twelve hours of training into a +40-hour working week, the funding enabled me to completely focus on my performance. It felt like I was being paid to recover, rather than being paid to train, if that makes sense?
What orthotic devices were you using before you came to Pace? None! I came for a clinical assessment, where Ian (Talbot, Pace Prosthetist/Orthotist) listened to my needs. Quite honestly, he and Mike (Merringham, Pace Technician) moved heaven and earth to assist me and in a very short time frame.
How do the orthoses benefit you? They fix my ankles, so I am more stable. I can then generate more power, as well as being more aerodynamic. They make me a more efficient cyclist. Hopefully we can do some more testing to make further improvements.
Presumably you’ll be competing at the next Games, in 2024? Yes, I’ve got my titles to defend! Hopefully my family can come and watch, which will be amazing.
Finally, are there any perks from being a double Paralympic Champion? I’ve been given a few complimentary beers and cakes whilst out on rides, which is nice! It’s a bit embarrassing when you’re described as ‘inspirational’, but if I’ve encouraged someone to get fitter; be more active; or just try something new, then that’s the real success.
Thanks Ben. Good luck for the coming season. Thank you so much for helping me, it’s been a game changer!