Paralympian Amanda Reid on loving the thrill and speed of track cycling. By Richard Cooke.


Up to speed: Amanda Reid, 19, cyclist

I have done a lot of sports over the time. I’ve basically done all the school sports you could possibly do. I’ve done equestrian, I’ve done cycling, I’ve done athletics, I’ve done swimming, I’ve done speed skating, I’ve done a lot of things. Futsal. And cycling. Cycling is my favourite out of all of those.

What is it about cycling that makes it No. 1? I just love the sport, I just love doing it, because you’ve got to love the sport to be able to succeed in a sport.

I did it when I was little and then swimming sort of took over because you can’t go away until you’re 18 in cycling. Around this time last year I decided to pick up cycling because I really enjoyed it when I was little, so that’s how I got back into it.

You’ve got to have no fear on the velodrome. Because of how steep it is. I don’t feel the fear. I like going straight from the top down to the bottom – I love the thrill and speed of that. I was never scared of it. Behind the [training] motorbike we get up to about 62 kilometres an hour.

I went to London 2012 for swimming. To me, they’re not really that different. I just basically train for what I’m doing, I don’t think about anything else. You’re there for one thing and that’s to win, basically.

I stopped enjoying swimming. I had been swimming for nearly 12, 13 years, so I think probably the black-line sort of got a bit boring after a while.

My cerebral palsy didn’t help the fact of swimming either. I was getting more and more fatigued because of it. I get a lot more rest in cycling now.

People usually don’t believe that I’m a Paralympian, going to my second Games. They’re like, ‘Wow, at the age of 19 that’s pretty good.’ I don’t really like to publicise it a lot.

I don’t actually think of anything before I race. If you think about it… So that’s the way I sort of go: just don’t think.

At 15, I was one of the youngest athletes at the Games. You just basically go there for the learning experience at your first Games. I learnt how I needed to train harder. Learnt what I needed to do to win that gold. There are definitely no shortcuts.

I’ve only been in the sport for 11 months. I went to worlds this year and got the silver medal but I wasn’t really sure. There is the Netherlands girl that I really want to beat because I could get the gold medal if I beat her. I think there was about two seconds between us. But she’s been cycling for a few years, so she’s got a few more years on top of me.

It was sort of like cramming to try and get me up to the speed of some of the others, but it was all worth it. It’s all worth it in the long run.

I’ll be doing two events on the track and two on the road. I’m not focusing on the road events at all though. It’s more for training. And for fun.

There’s some infighting in my category over disability. A little bit. But I just try to ignore it all. That’s the best thing you can do. I don’t think people realise stuff like that happens, like people saying you’re not that disabled and stuff like that. So that’s something that’s out there, too.

 I think that the Olympics and the Paralympics should be one big event. In time I think that will happen but at the moment they’re separate.

I have a personal motto. It’s “dream it, believe it, you’ll be it”.

A few months ago, I watched this Cathy Freeman documentary. And because I’m Indigenous as well – Guringai, from the north shore of Sydney – it actually showed some of the Indigenous stuff that actually happened to Cathy Freeman that I didn’t actually know about. She didn’t get all of her medals from state championships and all that, and I can relate to some of that because I didn’t get all my medals from some of the stuff I’ve competed in. I think the Indigenous stuff needs to move forward as well with time.

I don’t know if it was based on race. But it just makes me train harder to achieve what I want.


1 . This week’s highlights…

Tennis: US Open 

Until September 12, 6am (AEST), Flushing Meadows, New York 

NRL: Melbourne Storm v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

Saturday, 7.30pm (AEST), AAMI Park, Melbourne

Netball: Australian Diamonds v New Zealand Silver Ferns

Sunday, 3.30pm (AEST), Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne

• Cricket: Australia v Sri Lanka fifth ODI

Sunday, 7pm (AEST), Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy, Sri Lanka

• Rio Paralympic Games

From Thursday, 6.30am (AEST), until September 19, Rio de Janeiro

AFL: Second qualifying final – Geelong v Hawthorn

Friday, 7.50pm (AEST), Melbourne Cricket Ground

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 3, 2016 as "Up to speed".

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Richard Cooke is a contributing editor to The Monthly, and the 2018 Mumbrella Publish Award Columnist of the Year.

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