Setback for cycling chances

Dual cycling gold medallist Mark Le Flohic has been forced to withdraw from the Beijing Games after he broke his collarbone training in Perth three days ago.

Le Flohic, who competes in the road time trial for cerebral palsy athletes, has to have a metal plate inserted in his shoulder and will not be able to compete even though the road competition does not begin until Friday September 12.

Le Flohic, 38, who has a brain injury from a car accident, who claimed a gold medal in Sydney in 2000 and again in Athens in 2004, was aiming for the road time trial hat-trick.

It was just the news Australian chef de mission Darren Peters did not want to hear.

"This is very sad news for Mark and also for the team...Mark was well placed to achieve a third Paralympic medal...the accident could not have come at a worse time."

"The cycle team has a mix of experience and inexperience,'' he said, "and for that reason it's been one of the sports we've been most nervous about because of standard of the British.”

"It is a major setback in our medal plans but we will rise above it and pull together as a team,'' Peters said.

Cycling reaped 10 gold medals in Athens for the Australian team, whose total golden haul was 26 across all sports.

On top of the let-down about Le Flohic, came the news sprinter Aaron Chatman has contracted chicken pox while training in Hong Kong and has been ordered to remain in quarantine there rather than join his team-mates in Beijing today, as originally planned.

Australian Paralympic Committee team physio for track and field, Phil Power, is with the 21 year-old from Melbourne and will continue to monitor his condition.

Athletics competition begins next Monday and Chatman, who has cerebral palsy, competes in the 200m, 400m and the relays.

Despite all the pre-Games dramas, the bulk of the Australian team of 170 athletes arrived on a chartered Qantas jet into Beijing last night and have taken up residence in the Athletes Village to undergo final preparations before the Opening Ceremony at the Bird's Nest on Saturday.

The 35-member swim team, which was in a trianing camp in Kuala Lumpur just like its Olympic counterparts did, arrived in China last weekend and have been training already at the Water Cube.

by APC Beijing Media Team

Posted 02/09/2008 01:27 PM


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