Pete Mitchell missed out on Rio gold by just 0.4 seconds but the British para-cycling star believes the Paralympic movement provides his greatest inspiration heading into Tokyo 2020.

Brighton-born Mitchell, who now lives in Northwich, was pipped to the ultimate prize in the kilo event with team-mate Neil Fachie by the Dutch duo of Tristan Bangma and Teun Mulder, an experience he said initially put him in a dark place despite still scooping that silver three years ago.

But the able-bodied Mitchell, a para-cycling pilot who guides visually impaired team-mate James Ball, on a tandem bike, believes it was the longer-term impact of his achievement that gave him the most personal satisfaction.

And with the countdown to Tokyo intensifying, the 29-year-old says it’s the inspiration the Games are capable of harnessing that makes the occasion so special.

“When I crossed the line in Rio I just thought ‘we’ve lost’ – that’s how I’d sum up the feeling and I just thought ‘I’m a loser,’” the six-time world champion said, who was speaking at a Sainsbury’s store in Northwich.

“There was just nothing – I was empty and it just felt like the medal was any other medal and didn’t feel special, so it was horrible.

“But when I got back I started to go to schools and make appearances, and that was one of the best things I did to get me out of that hole.

“Every single time the kids were just so excited and there were real instances where I actually inspired people.

“It was the first medal I had that actually caused excitement because this ParalympicsGB kit actually represents something - it has a power and represents achievement.

“Going towards the Paralympics I just thought it was all about winning, but coming out of that I realised that there is actually a bigger picture.

“It makes you realise what you’re part of - it reminds you that you have a responsibility and a power for that period to change people’s lives and perceptions.”

Mitchell’s story is full of idiosyncrasies, initially training as an able-bodied cyclist for Great Britain Under-23s before being dropped in 2012.

But his passion for the sport was too powerful to ignore, leading to him reluctantly dropping his goal of competing at an Olympic Games for an altogether different proposition – the Paralympics.

Going on to lead a two-man team as a pilot, he immediately adapted to the enhanced responsibility he was forced to take on.

But with Tokyo just around the corner, the Northwich speedster – who is now a father - says he isn’t getting overly carried with the hype just yet.

“It feels really far away at the moment – I’ve got the World Championships in January and won’t find out if I’m actually selected until May,” added Mitchell, who was helping to promote Sainsbury’s role as longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all.

“I feel like having kids since Rio means I enjoy my lifestyle and having time with them, so now I think winning is an extra bonus.

“I don’t think that takes away from how hard you try, but I’d like to think if it didn’t go well I’d be able to deal with it better, as it was hard to take last time.

“I just hope I sit on the start line feeling happy and content.”

Sainsbury’s is the longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers live well for less has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit