Rickard Nilsson's interest in parasports was awakened in 2013. In the spring of 2014, he decided to start cycling. Using a tricycle, or trike, results came rapidly. He has been a member of the Swedish National Paracycling Team since the 2014 season, which has toured and competed in order to earn as many qualification points as possible for Rio. Their goal was to qualify at least three cyclists - they managed to qualify four!
"This will be my first Paralympic Games, and it's going to be super-fun embarking on a brand-new adventure with new experiences. Right now, the goal is to go to Rio as well-prepared as possible. Both physically and mentally, but also with a trike that has what it takes to contend for a good position. My long-term goal is to be the best in the world! And, of course, to see how far I can go as an athlete and to see what my body is capable of. My journey through the sport over the last two years has made me realise how many similarities there are between sports at the highest level and the development of avionics products of the highest quality. In both cases, structure and determination are building blocks that one must possess," says Rickard.
However, combining work and professional sports is no walk in the park, and there are many challenges on the road to becoming the best in the world:
"One of the greatest challenges I face is in finding enough time for everything I need to do. If I plan my time well and organise my days effectively, I don't usually have a problem with fitting training into my schedule. This has also been made easier by having a supportive employer like Saab, and it's great to be able to combine professional sports with the development of advanced avionics systems. Participating in a professional sport is like running a project with numerous points of contact, meetings, mails to be sent, a lot of planning and so on. And the trikes need to be in top condition for training and competitions so that the best possible results can be achieved. There's a lot to do but it's incredibly fun and it provides one with an immense amount of energy. Something this endeavour has made me realise is that it is possible to accomplish a great deal in a short period of time if one is prepared to fight for it and work diligently with a well-structured plan. And, naturally, this is something I try to incorporate into my workday at Saab," concludes Rickard.
Paralympics is taking place 7-18 of September and Rickard is competing 14-16 of September. You can also read more about Rickard on his webpage.