As the Summer Paralympic Games are just over a year away, athletes from around the world will be training in earnest to take up their places in national teams and compete with the best in the world.
Among them is Emirati cyclist, Abdullah Salem al Blooshi.
He began cycling at the age of 12 at Al Ahli Club in 2004 and went on to win his first team medal just a year later.
Fast-forward two years and Al Blooshi was representing the UAE in the national team.
This meteoric rise to success continued with many international achievements.
He bagged a bronze medal in the team time trial at the 2009 Arabian Championship and became the first Emirati in the peloton in the Asian Championship, held in the UAE the same year.
By 2010, the Emirati youngster moved up into the elite category and seemed on course for stardom in the cycling world.
However, just two years later, then 20-year-old Al Blooshi suffered a devastating injury during training.
A collision with a road sign at high speed, which resulted in his right arm sustaining major damage that has proven to be life-changing.
Since then, Al Blooshi has undergone over 30 surgeries in the UAE and with specialists in Germany, but has not regained the use of his right arm.
For many, an injury like this would discourage them from continuing with the sport and put an end to dreams of international achievement, but the Emirati cyclist persevered.
At first, it was purely the love of the sport that got him to continue but after being encouraged by his friend and now coach, Mohammed Al Murawwi, Al Blooshi entered the racing arena again.
His first race was the Nad al Sheba race, in the determination category, where he took first place.
Since then, Al Blooshi has raced in Paralympic competitions all over the world, and is part of the UAE Paralympic National team.
Personal trainer, Joe Watters, who has seen Al Blooshi’s determination and resilience firsthand, is so moved by his story that he is keen to share it with the wider audience so it can inspire others who have endured a similar ordeal as him.
“Not many people could come back from an injury so severe, it’s a challenge mentally as much as physically,” said Joe Watters.
He further added, “Abdullah hasn’t let it stop him from training hard and believing in himself, and it’s shown in his achievements since the accident. Hopefully this will inspire others and show people that, if you have the motivation, you can triumph over adversity”.
Abdullah’s most recent achievement came in the form of a bronze medal at the Asian Championship in Uzbekistan in April, and he has many more races to come as he works towards the Paralympic Games in August 2020.
The Colombian sprinter showed his competitive edge, ploughing forward in the closing kilometre to take up a good position on the wheel of one of his fellow riders at the front of the peloton.
The relentless rain provided difficult conditions for the peloton, and that undoubtedly played on the mind of the sprinters, who were all waiting for the right time to make their move.
But with just 300 metres to go, Gaviria went, and it looked like he was primed for the stage win, before Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) pipped him to the line.
It was Gaviria’s second podium finish of this year’s race, adding to the stage win he picked up on Stage 3, and continued the team’s good form following Diego Ulissi’s third placed finish on Stage 4 the previous day.
Commenting on the race, Gaviria said: “Today the rain and the cold made the race demanding, and I was pretty tired in the approach of the final circuit.
“Despite this, I gave the best in the sprint and I almost hit the big target. The arrival was at the end of a very long straight, it seemed we could never reach it. Watching the sprint after the race, I started the sprint too early, I would start later if I could go back and repeat it.”
Stage 6 will be the longest of the Giro 2019 and at 238km, could be good for a breakaway; particularly given there is a difficult climb that is peaked just 13km from the finish.
Movistar’s Richard Carapaz held on for victory on stage four of the Giro d’Italia in Frascati but Primoz Roglic was the big winner as a late crash hit his rivals and saw him extend his lead in pink.
A touch of wheels a little over five kilometres from the finish saw several riders hit the deck and caused a shake-up of the general classification.
There had been much speculation as to whether the slight uphill finish would suit a sprinter or a punchier rider but in the end only a small group was left to contest the stage, with Roglic and Carapaz the only one major general classification hopefuls among them.
Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates was in the next group on the road alongside Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Bob Jungels (Deceunick-QuickStep), conceding 16 seconds to Roglic, but the big loser was Dutchman Tom Dumoulin.
The Team Sunweb rider, second in this race last year, already looks out of the reckoning this time around as he crossed the line more than four minutes after Roglic, bleeding heavily from his left knee.
Roglic now leads by 35 seconds from Yates, with Nibali a further four seconds back.
The win could also bring Carapaz back into the reckoning after a disappointing opening time trial, with the bonus seconds leaving him 81 seconds off pink in 16th place.
Yates’ fellow Lancastrian Hugh Carthy of EF Education First is 13th, 76 seconds down, while Team Ineos’ Pavel Sivakov sits in 17th, 84 seconds back as the team’s best-placed rider.
The crash completely split the peloton with only seven riders left in the front group to contest honours at the end of the 235km stage from Orbetello.
Carapaz attacked in the final few hundred metres and though Lotto-Soudal’s Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan set off after him, the Ecuadorian had just enough to hold on.
For the second straight day, it was a nervy, chaotic finish to end what had been a long, slow day with riders taking it easy over the rolling 235km stage.
An all-Italian three-man break formed of Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Marco Maestri (Bardiani CSF) and Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane) had been allowed a lead which stretched to 11 minutes at one point but the peloton stepped up the chase in the final third of the stage.
The catch was made with 10km to go but moments later came the crash which could yet prove pivotal in this Giro.
Provided by Press Association Sport