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Commentary: Alex Dowsett may have fallen short but his hour record ride was inspiring

Despite missing the target distance, Alex Dowsett's hour record attempt helped to shine a light on a rarely talked about condition, and gave hope to many.

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In the words of former U.S president Theodore Roosevelt: It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

Alex Dowsett may have missed out on a new hour record Wednesday, but he achieved so much more by just trying. Dowsett’s effort Wednesday on the track in Aguascalientes, Mexico, despite falling short of Victor Campenaerts’ record of 55.089, sent a message of triumph in the face of adversity.

Also read: Alex Dowsett comes up shy of hour world record in Mexico

The triumph for Dowsett was not in the final distance that he achieved — though he did improve on his previous best by nearly two kilometers — but in making it to Mexico in the first place.

As one of the only elite athletes in the world with the rare blood condition hemophilia, the odds have been stacked against the 33-year-old since he was a child. However, amid the disappointment of falling short of the record, Dowsett was keen to put forward a message of positivity.

“The biggest failure today would have been to have never tried and that’s the message to send out. I spent a childhood being told what I couldn’t do,” an emotional Dowsett said in the track center in Aguascalientes. “We knew what we couldn’t do, football, rugby, boxing, so we set about finding what we could do.”

“We turned a negative into an absolute positive, and I’ve been able to carve a massive career out of adversity and that should be the message. Life can throw you a bad hand and it’s what you make of it and how you deal with it.”

Dowsett’s condition means that his blood will not clot if he suffers an injury, and he relies on medication to manage it. In a sport where falling down at high speed and suffering cuts is a common occurrence, what he has done is no mean feat.

It can’t be understated just how important representation is across all spectrums of society and for someone — particularly a young child adjusting to life with a condition such as hemophilia — to see Dowsett at the top of the sport and attempting to break a record could potentially be life-changing.

It wouldn’t be too bold to say that Dowsett’s ride was inspiring, and not just for those with hemophilia, but for anyone who has struggled in life.

A rollercoaster ride

Dowsett’s journey to Wednesday’s effort has been tough at times. He was supposed to take it on last year but had to postpone his bid after he caught COVID-19 just weeks before it was set to happen.

A year later, he could finally get on the track and push himself as hard as he possibly could. For Dowsett, there was success to be found in being brave enough to put his head above the parapet and see just how far he could go.

“We’ve been on a huge journey to get here and the belief we’ve kept is knowing the good we’re doing,” Dowsett said.

“Today is not a failure. I think that the message of coming up short is the best message that could have been sent today. I put my hat in the ring and I tried. The hour record is something to be scared of but it’s not something to be shied away from.”

His ride was more than breaking a record or even raising awareness, he also wanted to raise funds for his Little Bleeders charity, which supports those with blood disorders. Money is still coming in thick and fast, but his ride has already raised in excess of £36,000 ($48,000), which is more than twice what he had originally set to raise.

Dowsett will now head into his off-season and begin preparing for 2022. The pain in the legs and the disappointment he will feel after not being able to beat the record will fade but the impact of his ride will have a much longer-lasting impact.