Nelson realises dream by winning national title

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by Alexia Johnston

Hand cyclist Jono Nelson is basking in glory after becoming the best in New Zealand.

Nelson competed at the paracycling club nationals in Carterton late last week, where he won gold and silver medals and secured national champion status.

He received a silver medal in the time trial on Friday, after finishing the 15km course in 27min 32sec.

Nelson, who has spina bifida, went on to win gold in the road race on Saturday, completing the 37km course in 1hr 23min.

He went to Carterton as leader of the three-wheel series, but returned home as the overall winner, another accolade he was proud of, he said.

Conditions throughout the competition were challenging, he said.

“It was very windy. It was near to gale-force winds both days and there were weather warnings on MetService.”

However, competitors battled on.

Nelson not only returned home with medals for his efforts – he also proved dreams do come true.

“This has been, ever since I started hand cycling, [my dream] to be national champion. It’s been 10 years, but I’ve finally done it,” he said.

“I’m very happy.”

Prior to hand cycling, Nelson competed in wheelchair racing.

“I was in the top three in New Zealand, [but] I ended up with quite major health issues and the doctor said I had to change my sport, so I got into hand cycling and I’ve never looked back.”

Looking forward, Nelson plans to compete in Australia soon, and Europe.

“Europe is basically where it is at, so if I could get back to Europe to race that will be awesome.”

But for now he will take a break.

“I’m going to have a bit of a break and sit down with my coach [John Rich] and come up with our next plan of attack.”