Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Sharp has top-10 finish at Paralympics

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WORLD CLASS; Tauranga cyclist Fraser Sharp had a top-10 finish in the time trial final at the Rio Paralympics. PHOTO/File
WORLD CLASS; Tauranga cyclist Fraser Sharp had a top-10 finish in the time trial final at the Rio Paralympics. PHOTO/File

Fraser Sharp finished eighth at the Rio Paralympics in the C3 cycling time trial final held early yesterday (NZ time).

The 39-year-old Tauranga resident, who had lived by the adage "anything is possible" after he was nearly killed by a motorist while training on his bike back in 1993, recorded a time of 42 minutes 20.07 seconds around the 30km course.

Sharp initially missed out on selection for Rio but was called in with less than three weeks' notice after Russian athletes were excluded from competing.

"To be honest I was feeling pretty good after the race. To finish eighth is better than what had been expected, even by my coach Rick Reid," Sharp said.

"I believe Paralympics New Zealand will be quite happy with my performance.

"I was happy because I was called up two and a half weeks ago and then got into serious training.

"I had been training but not to the Olympic level where I should be because I didn't think I was going to the Olympics. Then it was just head down and butt up."

Sharp said the road surface in Rio was excellent and he got lucky with the weather.

"The Olympic time trial course was exceptional and very fast.

"Fortunately today the temperature dropped from yesterday when we had 39 degrees. That was forecast for the race but it didn't come as a front came through that brought cooler temperatures."

Sharp had just one day's rest before he was back in action for the road race (12.30am Saturday NZ time) where he was hopeful of making the podium and claiming a medal.

"I am looking forward to the road race. The course is quite flat. I would have liked more hills to break the field up and who knows what the temperature will be as the heat plays a major part.

"If the temperatures are crazy, it could be a sit in the bunch-type of race whereas I like to go from the front. It is 70km so I just have to ride smart.

"Here's hoping for a good result."

Sharp was still pinching himself he was in Rio as part of the New Zealand team after the abject disappointment he went through after missing out on initial selection.

"It has been a heck of a blur. I feel if I blink I will miss it. The whole thing came around so quick and here I am in Rio at my first Paralympics.

"It is a good feeling to be an Olympian.

"I am very fortunate with the help and the faith Paralympics NZ have put in myself to fund my coach over here with me who has been an exceptional help.

"I want to say a huge appreciation to the Tauranga community and the Tauranga Road Cycle Club. The support has been immense.

"Words cannot say how much it means to me."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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