An elite athlete and honest sportsperson tells her story of the Para Cycling Track World Championship, to qualify for the green & gold in Rio. What a journey. Thank you Hannah for your insightful words into the challenges and fulfilling moments you have experienced.

Part 1 2016 Para Cycling Track World Championships

How to put into words the tumult of emotions, the disappointment, frustration, anguish, and knowledge that you completely screwed up an important four minutes of your life, but also knowing that you left it all out there on the track, and had to be caught by support staff because your legs could not hold you up at the end of your race. In a sentence – I went out too fast, cooked myself, and literally died in the butt – the glutes and legs were made of lead after about 7 out of 12 laps. Not the best position to be in. And so ends the bid to compete at the Rio Paralympics. My teammates Alex and Sue road brilliant finals – both PB’ing at sea level, and taking out silver and bronze respectively. While my heart aches that I will not be in the green and gold in Rio, I am sending them the biggest of speedy/kick butt vibes when they step up in September. So where to now – jolly good question. TBA. Maybe a few adventures that you don’t do get to do when you are in elite athlete mode – some mountain biking, rock climbing, cycling without numbers/specific sets, and naturally, finish off the PhD. And then begin focusing on the 2017 World Championships where I will not make the same mistake twice, and walk away with my head held high and proud with what I achieve.

 

Take 2 of 2016 Para Cycling Track World Championships: The reappearance of blue sky

Good news – there is still gelato left in Italy. I couldn’t quite manage to consume my body weight in the Italian icon, however, I can definitely recommend pistachio, coconut, fig, dark chocolate, and Nutella as flavours – but perhaps not all at once… While I sit here on the plane and reflect over the past few weeks, it is still with a lot of pain. However, the storm has past and the blue sky is appearing between the clouds. Within the patches of blue is one of my strengths – gratitude. Research tells us that gratitude plays a massive role in happiness, resilience, well-being, physical health, and living a meaningful life. So harnessing this strength, I am grateful for:

 Having the opportunity to represent my country in a second sport, at the world championship level, and donning the green and gold.

 

  • Being able to ride my bike and compete in a sport that I love.
  • Being able to ride my bike around Italy and explore rolling hills, valleys, the sprawling vineyards, and sparkling blue of Lake Garda.
  • Being able to ride my bike and feel free.
  • The support from my family, friends, cycling and sporting communities, sponsors, and coach. When debriefing with Mick, I did learn I am not the only one to have cooked themselves at the start of a pursuit at a World Championship level. While it doesn’t make me feel like I screwed up my race any less, it is nice to know others are human as well 
  • The amazing Aussie staff on the trip – we were lucky enough to have ridiculously brilliant mechanics, Mikey and Will; our bodies were held together by physio’s Keren and Eliza; our team was managed by Muz; and our resident superwoman was Berthy – The Swanny.
  • The friendliness of the staff at Hotel Faro. No request was too big, and the warm welcome every time you stepped through the door was very much appreciated.
  • I am still touched by the act of kindness of my roomie and when she hung up my washing after a washing run.
  • Putting together some good racing strategies at the National Road Race and Time Trial in Adelaide

 

To read more of Hannah’s story please visit her website:

http://www.hannahmacdougall.com.au/