Sheppard savours track success
8:11pm Sunday 2nd September 2012 in London Olympics 2012 - Latest News
Great Britain team boss Gareth Sheppard was thrilled his team finished the Paralympic Games track programme on a high at the London 2012 velodrome and is seeking further improvement for Rio de Janeiro.
The hosts won five gold medals, seven silver and three bronze to top the track cycling medal table ahead of China on total medals won.
There were some disappointments - notably mechanical issues which prevented Jody Cundy and tandem pairing Anthony Kappes and Craig MacLean from completing their favoured events.
"It's been a real emotional rollercoaster," British Cycling Paralympic performance manager Sheppard said.
"There have been some absolute highs and some real lows. We returned 15 medals - we've medalled in every event we've entered a rider."
Britain won 12 out of 13 events entered four years ago in China, but the classification system was altered by cycling's world governing body, the UCI, in the intervening years.
"We were never going to be able to match that result from Beijing," Sheppard added.
"Perhaps with the exception of the men's C4/5 kilo we've got the results we wanted in every single classification. We're happy."
China also won five gold medals, including in the mixed C1-5 team sprint - the final race at the London Velodrome for at least a year as the Olympic Park is reconstructed - but finished with a total of nine.
Australia were third with four golds, with the United States, Spain, New Zealand and Romania winning a gold apiece.
"What we have seen is a huge increase in the standard of Paralympic competition and that's just good for the sport," Sheppard added.
"It keeps us on our toes. We've got to go back now and raise our game again to make sure we stay on top for Rio."
Sheppard hopes to remain in his current role for the 2016 Games, when new faces could be in the team.
In tandem racing, a pilot must serve a three-year exile from Olympic or world competition to be considered for para-cycling, as MacLean did to be selected for London. It is feasible Sir Chris Hoy, should he follow Victoria Pendleton into retirement, could become a pilot for a visually impaired rider in Brazil.
"Maybe those are conversations we'll have in the next couple of months," Sheppard added.
"Craig's set a precedence there. He came over, he wanted to continue his career, Jason Queally wanted to do that as well.
"We've also got examples like Helen Scott (pilot to Aileen McGlynn) who have come through the academy system.
"We'll look at every angle to make sure we get the best people on the best bikes and aim for those gold medals."
Medals are the target next week too, with four days of road competition at Brands Hatch.
The Welshman added: "We managed to stay on top of the medal table, we're still the number one track nation and now we've got to go to look to try to build on that on the road."