Ian Marsden


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Rio 2016 Paralympics KL1 200m final

Rio 2016 Paralympic Bronze medalist KL1 200m Paracanoe

A quick photo after winning my heat
Click here to watch the video of the race.



  My name is Ian Marsden. I was a member of the British Powerlifting Team for a number of years, and this is an account of my sporting career from when I was an able bodied competitor to becoming a wheelchair athlete.

When I was able bodied I won my first title at the British Open Powerlifting Championships in 1989. This started a major chain of wins, holding British and European titles, and breaking all the records for the teenage and junior classes.

My best achievement was in the World Championships in 1992 where I won the World and European title; and smashed three World, four European and six British records. I was also named best lifter, and also received a special commendation from the Sports Council for my achievements over the years.

I suffered a spinal injury, which resulted in me becoming wheelchair bound. Since then I dreamed of competing at international level again and discovered handcycling. This enables wheelchair bound athletes to cycle at high speeds in specially-designed handcycles. These use upper body power and arm strength to steer and race the bikes. I have raced handbikes internationally for over seven years, representing Great Britain on many occasions.

Handcycling is very big in Europe, and has its own European Handcycling Circuit (EHC). This circuit consists usually of up to 10 races around Europe, and you will often see over 150 riders on the start line.

I competed annually in the EHC races, and raced for a Czech Based Team for 5 years, consisting of a Paralympic Gold medallist Marcel Pipeck. I have been consistently in the top 5 riders on the European Circuit in the C Division. One of my best results came in Milan in 2007 when I came 3rd in the World Handcycling Federation World Championships. This was the first time a rider from the UK had been on the Podium in a World Championships and EHC race. This success continued later in the same year when I won the British EHC race which was part of the opening of the Tour de France in London.

I was Number One in the UK, winning the National Time Trial Championships and gaining the National Leader's Jersey for the second consecutive year. Also winning many other UK races including the Grand prix series: ten gruelling road races and time trials around the UK.

I was taken into Hospital for a while at the end of 2010. When I went into Hospital for what I thought was a prolapse on my neck I found out a lot more. I’ve been diagnosed with a rare Motor Neurone type condition which affects my legs, brain and arms. After my diagnosis I had surgery on my neck, having metal plates and a carbon cage put in to rebuild the damage to the cervical spine.

I am no longer doing competitive Handcycling due to the muscle loss and power in my arms.

But when I was in Hospital I had a plan in case it all went wrong, I did some reading and made a few contacts about Paralympic 10 meter target Air Rifle shooting. When I left Hospital I started training at Rugeley Rifle club who helped me a lot. I did my first competition and won my class, due to this I was talent spotted by the GB Paralympics Team and was asked to join the 2012 Fast Track Talent Programme in London. During my shooting career I represented Great Britain several times, winning a Silver in the individual falling target 10m and Bronze in the team 10m prone.
  During my shooting career I was asked if I would like to attend a talent ID day for Paracanoe in Nottingham. I had been asked before when I was handcycling, but did not have the time. After I attended the talent ID day I was asked if I would like to attend regular training at Nottingham, which I took up the offer. I am now part of the Paracanoe GB sprint team and have represented GB since 2013 winning Silver at the Europeans in 200 meter sprint, and in the same year Silver at the World championships. In 2014 and 2015 I won Gold at the European championships and Silver at the World championships in 2014 which were held in Moscow. This year I achieved bronze in the 2016 Paralympics.

More News

  I recently won the Sports Performer of the Year (Disability class) which was held at the County Showground in Stafford. The evening was in conjunction with Stafford Borough Council and the Staffordshire Newsletter.

I was also interviewed by Mark Shardlow from BBC East Midlands Today, read the article "Rio 2016: Ian Marsden's journey from powerlifter to Paralympic hopeful on water" on the BBC website here.