Exactly one year to the day since winning Great Britain’s second cycling gold medal of the 2012 Paralympics, Mark Colbourne visited the ISPS HANDA Wales Open to try his hand at a different sport as part of the ISPS HANDA PGA Academy Programme.
The 43-year-old Welshman, who recently announced his retirement from competitive racing after winning the C1 3km Pursuit at London 2012, received an inclusive coaching lesson from PGA Professional, Craig Thomas who is spearheading the ISPS HANDA PGA Academy Programme’s mission of providing more golf lessons to individuals with disabilities.
“To receive some coaching from Craig here at the ISPS HANDA Wales Open was fantastic” said Colbourne. “Out of six shots, I hit each one, which I’m really happy with and having retired from cycling this might just have to be my new sport!”
It was Colbourne’s first golf lesson since he broke his back in 2009 following a paragliding accident, after having fond playing memories with his father, who he sadly lost through stomach cancer in February.
“If my father could see me now, playing golf and actually hitting the ball with my disability, he would tell you that you were talking a load of nonsense” said Colbourne.
As part of their support of golf, ISPS HANDA’s mission is to see golf included in the Paralympics and Colbourne was full of support during a special Q&A session within the tented village.
“Golf lends itself to individuals with all types of disability so it would be perfect for the Paralympics,” Colbourne told an engrossed audience. “There will be many blind and disabled golfers out there who may never have tried it, so no matter how much experience or what age you are it really is for everyone. For me life began at forty, quite literally.”
Colbourne’s gold success at London 2012 was followed with two more British medals in the men’s C3 individual pursuit when Shaun McKeown took silver and Darren Kenny broke the world record as he took the bronze.
So what does the future hold – well in addition to setting up his own cycling coaching company that will offer European training camps, Colbourne is also a motivational speaker but it may be that golf takes more of a focus now, says Craig Thomas.
“It’s been great to have Mark at the ISPS HANDA Wales Open today and for someone that hasn’t played golf since having such a life changing injury, he was excellent!” said Thomas.
“Hopefully through the help of ISPS HANDA, the PGA Academy Programme and Golf Development Wales we can give Mark further lessons throughout the year and who knows he may be back here in 2014 to play in the official tournament Pro-Am.”
For more information on ISPS and the ISPS HANDA PGA Academy Programme please visit: www.ispsgolf.com