Aberdeen’s golden boy Neil Fachie thinks it’s “pivotal” he comes top in every event he enters ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Fachie, 34, had another medal-laden year in 2018, capturing his sixth para-cycling track world championship crowns in both the men’s tandem B one-kilometre time trial and sprint events.
At the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, just a few days later, he defended his Glasgow 2014 titles in the same events for Team Scotland.
After the disappointment of silver in the “kilo” at the Rio Paralympics in 2016, London 2012 champion Fachie considered his future in the sport, but has returned to its pinnacle.
He is now plotting a course to reclaim the kilo in Japan.
Fachie, who rides with Englishman Matt Rotherham, said: “In two weeks we’ve got a para-cycling world cup event in Manchester, which is the first event where qualification points count towards Tokyo.
“It should be pretty well attended, certainly by the European nations.
“It’s quite an important one for us to lay down a decent marker and get some qualification points.
“We’ve then got our national champs a week or so after that.
“World champs are in March in the Netherlands, which is the big one at the end of this season.”
Fachie began his season with a win in London and was surprised by he and Rotherham’s levels.
He said: “It was a marker. We had an idea where we were, but once you get into race mode we were a bit further ahead.
“I’m just looking forward to racing proper in big events over the next month or two. It’s looking promising.”
The north-east athlete, who suffers from the visual impairment retinitis pigmentosa, is based in Manchester with wife Lora – who is also a Paralympic gold medallist.
He thinks there are positives and negatives to having the first major event of the Paralympic build-up in the velodrome where he trains.
Fachie said: “It’s good and bad, because we’re there every day of the week.
“But it’s easy to forget you’re at a big, major competition when you’re in that venue.
“Saying that, we know where everything is and we have access to everything, so we’re hoping to race well there. “
The nature of the para-cycling season means post-world championships Fachie will have another fallow period competition-wise to ramp up his training before events start to come round again next winter. In theory, Fachie, who doesn’t know if he and Rotherham’s partnership will continue past this point to the Paralympics, could have enough points by the end of this season for Japan.
However, with Welshman James Ball breathing down his neck and the potential for Great Britain to select just one tandem, he needs to show form right up to July 2020.
Fachie, whose funding is intrinsically linked with Paralympic performance, said: “It’s pivotal we come out top in every event before Tokyo, that’s the reality of it.
“We’ve got another sprint bike pushing us hard and there’s a fair chance only one of the bikes will be going to Tokyo.
“You want to be ahead of them all the time if you can, certainly in those bigger events where selection points count and people are likely to be looking to see how you’re doing.“
Despite the pressure, Fachie still found time for some festive relaxation after a “dream” year.
Of Christmas, he said: “I was over in Liverpool at my wife’s family. It’s not too far away so we could get over last minute and back to train.
“We did actually get two days off and we based our training around that. I probably ate a bit too much, but you can allow yourself that if you’ve got some hard training to work it all off again the following day.
“It’s been head down the last few days to work off the calories.
“But it was nice to spend time with the family and not worry about training for a day or two – it was good fun.”