STRATFORD cyclist Megan Giglia has won Great Britain’s first medal of the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
The 31-year-old was guaranteed at least a silver medal after breaking her own world record in qualifying to reach the final but went on to beat American Jamie Whitmore and secure gold in the C1-3 3000m individual pursuit on Thursday evening (September 8).
Despite only taking up the sport three years ago, the former fitness coach held a lead of six seconds after the first 1000m and managed to catch up with her opponent before passing her with more than a third of the race left.
Megan made her international debut last year and went into the final as favourite after winning double gold at March’s UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Italy where she set new world records in both the 3km pursuit and the 500m time trial.
Speaking after the race, Megan told Channel Four: “It hasn’t sunk in yet.
“I wouldn’t be here without my team-mates, and my back-up team behind me.
“I didn’t think I would make it to Rio and I thought it was a bit ambitious but I wanted to give it a go.
“Within the British camp everyone is hyped up and ready to go.
“I have another three events now so I will enjoy the race with my legs peddling as fast as I can.”
Megan had a brain haemorrhage and stroke at the age of 27, which left her with paralysis down her right hand side.
She is dedicating each of her rides to an individual who has suffered a stroke with this one in honour of schoolboy Alasdair Rowan.
Megan’s gold medal victory is all the more remarkable given the fact she is epileptic and regularly has multiple seizures in training.
She will return to the velodrome in the 500m time trial at 2pm on Saturday (September 10) and is set to take on the C1-3 road time trial from 1.20pm on Wednesday (September 14) before finally competing in the road race from 1.35pm on Friday (September 16).
James Roe was Stratford’s last Paralympic medallist – winning gold in the mixed coxed fours rowing event at London 2012.
He was given a hero’s welcome upon his return with an open top bus tour around the town.
And a pair of postboxes in Bridge Street were also painted gold to mark his achievement.