When Ricardo Teno was eight years old, he had an accident that completely changed his life. He only had one full member left. Nevertheless, the former Paralympic swimmer is now heading to the seventh Paralympic Games. This time as a cyclist who also showed up to the WC on the Glasgow track.
This Spaniard talks about his fate in a completely neutral tone. No sign of regret or sadness, just acceptance of something that had happened to get him out of his normal life. Although that’s the question…
“When I was little, I touched a power line and almost killed myself. They had to amputate both my hands and my left leg. I had third degree burns on 75% of my body,” he told Cyclingweekly.
It took Ten two years to recover from his injuries and at least adjust somewhat to his new life. Today he is a three-time world champion in track cycling and won his third scratch title at the World Championships in Glasgow this year.
The outstanding Spaniard doesn’t admit injuries would limit him in any way. The 47-year-old Spaniard competes in the C1 category of paracyclists, reserved for severely disabled athletes. But before that, he worked for a long time at the Paralympic level as a swimmer. He started cycling only seven years ago. But he didn’t have to at all, he wanted to.
“I’ve been to five Paralympic Games, from Atlanta 1996 to Rio 2016,” he says. He won three gold medals. “But after Rio in 2016, I switched to cycling. People were really surprised by the change and how quickly I adapted. I probably had the advantage that even as a little boy I still rode a bike. I went to the swimming pool to practice. It has always been my means of transport in Valencia, where I still live today. And so it was that the only thing that ended my swimming career was the desire to try competitive cycling.
Ten’s bike is specially modified. “A track bike is very simple because it has no gears or brakes,” explains the Spaniard. “All I needed was to adjust the handlebars. Mine have secure handles, made from the molds of my stumps, which are attached to the tube. That is just about everything. I also have a specially designed prosthetic leg that clips directly into the pedal.
The Spaniard also races on the road and has won the rainbow jerseys in the C1 road and time trial events. “My road and time trial machines are a bit more complicated because I have to brake and shift,” he says. “But I have buttons for that on the handlebars,” he adds, as if it were no big deal.
In just six years in professional cycling, his accomplishments are staggering. “I’ve had quite a bit of success,” he says. “I’ve always been very competitive in all the sports I’ve played. I knew that if I trained and put in a lot of hours for cycling, I could do it. But I never thought the results would come so soon.
Ten’s next goal is clear. 28 years after the first Paralympics, he is determined to return to Paris 2024. “I have a chance to go to the seventh Paralympics, but this time as a cyclist. It’s quite incredible.
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