Now, success at cycling, too
Kate Horan’s world track cycling medal can often be found hanging on door handles in her home and around her 2-year-old’s neck, but she doesn’t mind a bit.
The 38-year-old Aotea resident was the newbie in the six-strong New Zealand team at the paracycling world track championships, held last month in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Horan has been a below-theknee amputee since the age of 5, because of a shortening of the tibia and absence of the fibula bone.
Along with battling nerves and 45- degree Celsius heat in her 500m time trial and 3km individual pursuit events in Mexico, it was the longest length of time she had been away from 2-year-old son Max.
‘‘It was hard being away from him and my family [she also has a partner and two teenage sons] for 11 days. But I was so busy that I just got on with it,’’ she said.
Horan has previous form as a runner, taking the silver medal in the 200m at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
She qualified for the 2012 London Paralympics, but injuries and Max put paid to that.
‘‘I stayed really fit during my pregnancy and would take Max to the track after he was born. But I sat down with my coach and realised that, with breastfeeding, I couldn’t give 100 per cent to running.
‘‘It was a tough decision to leave it behind, but I was so aware how precious Max was and how he needed me more.’’
She switched to cycling 18 months ago to fill the competitive void. Horan said her cycling technique was ‘‘all over the shop’’, because she can’t get low enough over the handlebars, but nevertheless she qualified for Aguascalientes.
Intense training sessions – often on her own on a stationary bike in her garage – while juggling family life was not easy, but it paid off in Mexico.
She set a good time for her 500m time trial, coming off the track shattered with her legs seizing up.
She was determined not to watch what other competitors’ times were, but was told she was still leading with just the Chinese world champ to go.
‘‘When I knew I was going to get a medal I burst into tears; it was embarrassing. Beijing was a big deal, but this was up there for me.
‘‘The phone call I made home later was pretty emotional.’’
Now she has had a break, so it’s time to get back into the oftenneglected therapeutic massage studies while still putting in time on the bike and in the gym.
There is one goal on the horizon: the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.
Two wheels: Aotea Paralympic athlete Kate Horan made her name as a runner, but now it’s cycling.