Cycling leukaemia survivor Norman Bright wins age category at Olympic Park ‘because I was the only one over 80’
- Credit: Archant
An 80-year-old leukaemia survivor from Stamford Hill who won a cycle race for his age category at the Olympic Park on Sunday insists he “wasn’t going that fast”.
It was business as usual for Norman Bright, who frequently takes home medals – including one for a time trial at the World Championships two years ago.
Norman, who lives in Ajex House in East Bank, said of his success at the event on Sunday: “I went quite hard from the start and quickly got up to 25mph but it was quite windy so I thought: ‘I can’t keep up with them.’
“The hills aren’t steep but it was a bit up and down, and I kept following until the race was over after an hour and 10 minutes.
“I was averaging about 17 or 18 miles an hour.”
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But he admitted his success in the category was aided by the lack of competitors: “I was the only one over 80 – the others have got more sense! There aren’t many 80-year-olds who are racing.”
Norman didn’t ride for 18 months after he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012, but can now manage about 50 miles a day and “could probably ride more”.
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The furthest he has ever gone in one day is 150 miles. “But I was 22 then. It took 12 hours,” he said.
Norman wants to get “a little bit fitter” to ride in the National Championships in Birmingham next month. “It’s very hard at 80 because you get a little bit out of breath,” he told the Gazette. “Your legs are alright but it’s your lungs. I say at the start of the race: ‘Has anyone got a spare pair of lungs to lend me?’
“Afterwards I do a little bit of stand up comedy. I just like doing all sorts of things. I want to get my book published. I just enjoy doing what I do.”
Norman coached one girl who “should she have not crashed, might have been in the Olympics”, but has never had any coaching himself – apart from asking the other guys advice.
“Racing isn’t very technical,” he said. “All you have to do from January to April is ride 1,000 miles or so.”
Nutrition is important for pescatarian Norman. “If you are overweight you aren’t going to make it as a cyclist,” he said. “You’ve got to treat your body with respect.
“The other thing that crops up all the time is the doping thing, but most of the guys I know are clean. Occasionally you do come across people who do something and it does upset us.”