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Paralympic star to speak at awards

Kate Horan receiving some encouragement from coach Jono Hailstone at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

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Three-time Paralympian Kate Horan has experienced the highest highs and lowest lows that come with competing in international sport, and in June she will be in Wairarapa to talk all about them.

Horan – a below the knee amputee – has returned from the Para-cycling Track World Championships in Brazil, and in a few weeks she will swap her bike for a microphone at the Wairarapa Times-Age Sports Awards.

It was only after a combination of factors ruled her out of the London Paralympics in 2012 that she decided to try her hand at cycling, after first making her mark on the world stage in athletics.

Just a year after taking up sprinting the Wellington-based mother-of-three made her Paralympics debut at the 2004 Games in Athens, but despite setting a world record in the T44 400m she missed out on a medal due to the competition format.

Four years later at the ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium in Beijing, Horan finally mounted the Paralympic podium after taking silver in the T44 200m.

Years of wear and tear on her body had started taking its toll in the following seasons, and Paralympics New Zealand chiefs advised her to switch to the lower impact sport of cycling.

Horan said making the switch was a challenging time in her life.

“I got to the point with running that I was having too many injuries.

“The doctors and the physios were saying my days were numbered, and they felt I’d gone as far as I could . . . they said the injuries wouldn’t ever go away.”

Kate Horan

Moving into cycling was a “huge learning curve”, she said.

“They said cycling would be easier . . . it wasn’t.

“I wasn’t very confident because prior to getting involved in para-cycling, I hadn’t been a very good cyclist.”

She was disappointed with her efforts at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, but it was in the months after that event that everything was put into perspective.

Her mother died not long after the Games, but she got to share a special moment with her before that occurred.

“Just after Rio – and I was bitterly disappointed with how Rio went – I got made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

“After feeling the bitter disappointment in Rio and then to be awarded that, was so unexpected.

“Mum knew about the award, and I was so relieved she was able to celebrate it.”

Her trip to Rio for last month’s World Championships was much more successful, and she claimed the silver medal in the 500m time trial.

She said she was still recovering from the competition, but was thrilled with how it had gone.

“I wanted to come home with a medal, and I did, so I was absolutely stoked.

“It was quite familiar going back.”

Horan said she has done a little bit of public speaking “here and there”, but only when the need arose.

She said it was comparable to competing in elite competition, and could evoke the same range of emotions.

“It’s a bit like a race really, except I know how to ride my bike. “You go through the same nerves and all of that stuff.”

The Times-Age Sports Awards will be held at the Copthorne Resort and Hotel on June 20.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday, May 4.

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