By Tom Harle at Lee Valley Velodrome
Para cyclist Steve Bate concedes it’s far from certain he will pursue a third Paralympics in Paris.
The Hebden Bridge-based star underwent hip surgery after his second Games in Tokyo that nearly curtailed a track career that began in 2013.
A pop-up partnership with Chris Latham was formed for the Commonwealth Games and they emerged with a bronze medal in the kilo and fifth place in the sprint.
The pair will continue to October’s World Championships in Paris and then take stock, with Bate not ruling out retirement.
He said: “Worlds will give us an idea of whether it’s realistic to target Paris.
“It’s been pretty exciting jumping on the bike with Chris and we’ve got a new coach. That’s rekindled the fire a bit.
“In the back of my mind, Paris is a target but I’m not too fixed on it. I turn 45 in a few weeks’ time and as long as I’m still enjoying it, I’ll keep pushing.
“After surgery I had to question if I wanted to carry on, it’s quite a big thing to come back from. There’s still a bit of life there but the minute it becomes hard work, I’ll have to look at that question.”
The 44-year-old has shelved road ambitions for a year while he completes full recovery from surgery but could return to the road next year.
Bate’s long-time pilot Adam Duggleby, with whom he won two Paralympic gold medals at Rio 2016 and silver in Tokyo, is racing at this month’s Road World Championships with Chris McDonald.
For Bate racing in front of packed houses on home boards makes it hard to contemplate stepping away.
He said: “It just reminds you, you come on this stage and think about retiring and the crowd, you can’t let it go. The day-to-day is hard going but you come and race and you can’t get it enough.
“It reminds you why you do it, all those days are hard, but it makes it worth it.
His final taste of that atmosphere was a perilous one as he and Latham suffered a rear puncture as soon as they dropped into the flying 200m time trial, attempting to qualify for sprint finals.
Bate said: “We felt like a bit of salmon down the back straight. I was just hoping I wasn’t going to die!
“It’s probably the scariest ride I’ve had on the tandem to be fair. I just stopped peddling on the final corner, I just wanted to stay upright really.
“It’s just a bit frustrating, without that, what we could have done. That’s never happened to me before.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.