Disability News

Paralympian completes handcycle journey around UK

Mel Nicholls
Image caption,
Mel Nicholls was welcomed back into Tewkesbury by a cheering crowd after completing her trip around Britain

A paralympian has completed a 4,800 miles (7,700km) journey around the coast of the UK by handcycle.

Mel Nicholls started the challenge in her home town of Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire on 7 August.

Her 75-day journey to raise money for charity came to an end on Friday when she was welcomed back into the town by a cheering crowd of supporters.

"It's been amazing. The kindness of strangers and the support of everybody has been incredible," she said.

Ms Nicholls set a new world record in 2019 by handcycling from Land's End to John O'Groats in just under seven days and wanted to set herself an even bigger challenge this year.

Mel Nicholls
Image caption,
Mel competed in the 100m and 200m wheelchair races at the London 2012 Paralympics just 15 months after taking up the sport

Her route took her clockwise around the UK, starting in Wales before heading north around Scotland and all the way around the east and south coast, before heading back into Gloucestershire.

"It was so special to see that Tewkesbury sign. It got me quite emotional and to see the guys up the road and everyone coming and standing at the side cheering," she said.

The Paralympic finalist in 2012 and 2016 was left unable to walk and use much of the left side of her body after suffering multiple strokes - the most recent in 2008.

Ms Nicholls completed the trip using a lightweight racing handbike. She is awaiting ratification but believes she has broken world records for the fastest time handcycling around Britain and the furthest distance ridden by handcycle.

Image caption,
The journey around the coast took Mel Nicholls 75 days to complete

"My shoes are being held together with Velcro and I feel my body is in a similar position," she said.

"It's not just the cycling; I had to plan my route, navigate, find somewhere for food and somewhere to stay so the brain is fully occupied each day.

"I guess I've done it now which is kind of mental to think about," the 44-year-old added.

Last year, she had to have a 5kg (11lb) ovarian tumour removed at Cheltenham General Hospital. She has raised £1,590 for the Ovarian Cancer Action charity through her journey.

From BBC