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Jon Gildea

GB para cyclist and skin cancer survivor.

About Jon

Born in Sale, Greater Manchester, Jon enjoyed mountain biking from a young age and represented Great Britain aged 16 in the junior world championships in Germany. Continuing to enjoy cycling as a hobby, severe leg and nerve trauma suffered in a mountain bike accident left him requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries. This life-changing event made him eligible for para-cycling events as a C5 rider and he set his goal to join the British Cycling para-cycling programme in 2013.

In recent years the annual Track Cycling World Championships have been a happy hunting ground for Jon. He first tasted success in 2016, winning silver in the scratch race in Montichiari and despite missing out on selection for Rio 2016, claimed the first rainbow jersey of his career in the individual pursuit in 2017 in LA and a scratch race gold at the same event just days later. Individual pursuit silver in 2018 in Rio, despite the recent loss of his inspirational father, and victory in the omnium in 2019 in Apeldoorn followed. In 2020, Jon broke his personal best on the way to bronze in the individual pursuit in Canada.

Despite narrowly missing out on the squad for the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics, Jon continues to be an inspiration, role model and benchmark for what is achievable. 

When does Jon use LifeJacket and why?

In 2020, I had surgery to remove a non-melanoma skin cancer from my face, just as I returned from the Track World Championships in Milton, Canada. This was tough news to deal with in the run up to one of the most important competitions of my career so far, and I was very relieved to still podium (you can find a blog that I wrote here about the experience).

The emotional burden of having cancer is horrible. I lost my dad to terminal cancer a few years ago, and both my mum and dad also had topical skin cancers removed. Looking back, I guess I just didn’t realise that I was at high risk of skin cancer. It’s now obvious that skin cancer most often occurs on the sun-exposed areas of the body, and that my face is so exposed to the elements whilst I’m outdoors in training. As a pro-athlete, my training schedule is very intense and I can be cycling outdoors for many hours every day.

After the surgery I was bruised and swollen for a few weeks and I now have a permanent scar on my cheek. I was lucky because of the type of cancer I had, the stage of the cancer (its size and how far it had spread) and my general good health. I’d like to urge others to be aware of any changes to their skin, get their skin checked but also to protect and prevent their skin from damage.

I use LifeJacket’s Daily Protection Moisturiser every morning because of the SPF 30 and UVA 5* sun protection. I really like the Very High Gel if I’m going out in the sun on my bike because it’s super lightweight and non greasy. I’ve found it sweat-proof and non-staining unlike most other high SPF products on the market. I then use the daily repair at night to help to fix my skin.

Being on the British Cycling team, I have a wide variety of team training kit that I have to wear, but when I’m out and about, the Casual UPF 50+ Tee and Long Sleeved Tee are great.

Where to see Jon in action?

Jon’s own website.