Jon-Allan Butterworth 'hopes to inspire' with Paralympics cycling gold


Paralympic cyclist Jon-Allan Butterworth has said he hopes to inspire people to "follow their dreams" after becoming the first British serviceman or woman injured in Iraq or Afghanistan to win Paralympic gold.

The 30-year-old from Sutton Coldfield triumphed in the C1-5 mixed team sprint at the Rio Paralympics on Sunday alongside Jody Cundy and Louis Rolfe.

Butterworth, a former RAF weapons technician who lost his left arm in 2007 following a rocket attack in Basra, Iraq, had previously claimed three silver medals at London 2012.

After taking the top prize for the first time at a Paralympics he told the Press Association it was an "amazing" feeling.

He said: "Paralympic sport is so elitist and hard to win in, it can seem out of reach. This shows that it is not out of reach. If you train hard and have belief in your ability you can come away with a medal.

"It shows people, and hopefully will inspire others to follow their dreams."

Butterworth had previously said that winning a gold medal at Rio "would be really nice to finish off that collection" he started four years ago, where one of his silvers came in a time trial that saw him pipped to gold by fractions of a second.

He said the huge support at the Rio velodrome played its part, adding: "At the world championships we might get 500 people, plus friends and family. At the Paralympics we have a 5,000 crowd, the sound is amazing. It's crazy how loud it gets in there, it either helps or hinders you and it helped me and drove me on."

The ex-serviceman was supported to Paralympics victory by a partnership between military charity Help for Heroes, British Cycling, the British Paralympic Association and UK Sport.

Jayne Kavanagh, performance pathway manager at Help for Heroes, said: "To come back from London 2012 with a performance like that was incredible and just shows what hard work and dedication can achieve.

"We're incredibly proud to work in partnership with the British Paralympic Association and hope Jon-Allan has inspired other wounded, injured and sick military and veterans that anything is possible post-injury."

The gold rush kicked off on day four with Rachel Morris, Britain's first medal winner of the day.

The 37-year-old from Guildford, who made the transition from cycling to rowing after London 2012, won arms-shoulders single sculls to claim gold eight years after cycling time-trial gold in Beijing.

Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley triumphed in the double sculls event and the mixed coxed four team were victorious, taking Britain's tally to 18 gold medals.

Then Lora Turnham and her pilot Corrine Hall claimed Britain's seventh gold at the velodrome with victory in the tandem 3km pursuit.

The successes took ParalympicsGB's tally to 21 golds.