THREE racing bikes worth £9,000 have been stolen from the home of a champion Paralympic athlete.
Matt Plested, 38, fears he may be forced to pull out of national and international cycling competitions.
Raiders broke into a shed in the back garden of his home in Kingsway, Caversham, and stole the bikes after disabling the alarm and cutting through a number of locks.
Mr Plested, who is paralysed down his left-hand side, said: “The bikes are my life. I do quite a lot of racing and have got a triathlon in London coming up at the end of this month.
“Without a bike to do it, I don’t know what’s going to happen.
“I also have a 54km race in September and a time trial in France which I have won for the last three years with a friend of mine.
“Then there are the national championships, where I was hoping to break the world record.”
Mr Plested was paralysed in a motorcycling accident in 1999 in which he broke his neck and back.
He took up cycling two years later on the advice of his physiotherapist but can only pedal with his right leg. The bikes are specially adapted for his use.
He said: “The bikes are not toys, they help me with my rehabilitation and if I can’t compete, my body seizes up and I can’t walk.”
In 2002, Mr Plested cycled from John O’ Groats to Land’s End in 10 days and came fourth in the national track championships.
The following year he won a bronze medal in the track championships and set a world record in the flying 200m, which he broke a year later when he picked up another bronze.
In 2005, he won gold at both the flying 200m and 1km at the Paralympic World Cup. In 2006, he won the 1km at the Newport International grand prix for riders with disabilities and in 2007, he took part in the London triathlon and the British open quadathlon.
Last year, he came fourth in the national road championships for cyclists with disabilities and he has won the Normandy duo 54km in the handisport category for the last three years.
Earlier this year he rode in a 24-hour, four-man team at Goodwood for charity.
He was Wokingham disabled sports personality of the year in 2002 and the Reading male sports personality of the year in both 2003 and 2005.
Dc Kirsty Bowles, of Reading police, is appealing for information about the theft and has asked that anyone who is offered a bike that matches the descriptions should contact police.
She said: “The victim was set for a race in a couple of weeks’ time but it does not look like he will be able to take part as a result of his bikes being stolen and the time needed to customise a bike to his needs. He has spent the last three years getting his bike into the perfect position for his cycling but as a result of the theft will now have to start back at the beginning.”
The bikes are as follows:
lAn Isaac, which is predominantly black with the words ISAAC written in yellow across the frame. Specially designed, it only has one brake lever and has wheels with thick carbon rims with “Handmade in Germany” written on them.
lPinarello FP-5 with a serial number F88385. It is white, red and black with PINARELLO written in white across a black frame.
lA silver Dolan track bike.
Anyone with any information should call Dc Bowles on 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.