Steve Bate amazed by new pilot Latham

·3-min read
Chris Latham will link up with Steve Bate this summer
Chris Latham will link up with Steve Bate this summer

Four-time Paralympic medallist Steve Bate can’t believe how quickly new pilot Chris Latham has picked up all the skills as the pair embark on a new experience this summer.

Bate had been paired with Adam Duggleby, with whom he won his four medals across the Rio and Tokyo Games.

However, after a crash in Japan, Bate decided to focus solely on track racing meaning the 44-year-old required a new pilot for this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

“We crashed out at Tokyo and I had to have hip surgery straight after the Games,” said Bate, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

“I was off the bike for the rest of last year from September through to December and only came back into it in January to get fit again and start from square one.

“I decided from that point that I was just going to focus on track riding, generally in the pursuit, and Adam was always going to carry on riding on the road, which is the right decision for him.

“So, that allowed a spot for Chris to jump on and have a blast, and he’s been doing bits with the development squad in the last year.

“He’s obviously an incredible bike rider himself, so it’s great to have him on the front of the tandem and have his experience, and it’s incredible how quickly he’s picked everything up.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Bate is looking for medal success.

Bate and Latham, who himself has a bronze medal from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, will have to be quick learners when it comes to competing in the 1km time trial and the match sprint, as both riders are far more accustomed to endurance events.

Thankfully for Bate, he is starting to regain the sort of power that has earned him four Paralympic and six World Championship medals following his surgery last autumn.

“I was off the bike for four months – I literally didn’t ride a bike for four months,” Bate said.

“That is obviously the longest I’ve ever had off it in eight years of being a professional athlete and it was enjoyable to actually put it down, but I think after about six weeks I started getting itchy feet.

“I wanted to be riding my bike because it’s my passion, I love riding, so I got back into it in January this year and those first few months were pretty horrible.

“It’s the most unfit I’ve ever been – I’d put on a bit of weight, obviously, when I was not riding – so to shift all that and get back up to fitness was really hard.

“I turn 45 next month and it doesn’t get any easier, that’s for sure, but I persevered and I’m back at a good level.

“I’m probably not back at my very best, in terms of endurance, but I’m pretty happy with where I’ve got because it’s been a long, tough road.”

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