Having entered the 2012 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Carson, USA without much fanfare, Simone Kennedy produced one of the most remarkable international debuts in recent history, with the Sydney-based Para-cyclist winning gold in the 500m time trial and 3km individual pursuit.
She followed this with a strong Paralympic debut, winning silver in the track individual pursuit C1-3 at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
To most it seemed her success had come from nowhere but these results were the product of years of gruelling training. Born with cerebral palsy hemiplegia affecting the left side of her body, Simone was introduced to Para-sport through her teachers at school.
While her teachers gave her the push she needed to explore opportunities in Para-sport, she says that it was while watching the 2008 Paralympic Games that she set her heart on a career in Paralympic sport. Simone recalls that seeing athletes with a higher level of impairment than hers compete at the Games gave her the confidence to join the Parramatta Junior Development Program.
Simone initially struggled to ride a track bike, crediting her improvement to regular training and road racing with able-bodied riders, and following a regime set by dual Paralympic gold medallist Peter Brooks as part of the Parramatta Junior Development Program, she eventually achieved world-beating speed.
Ramping up her preparations in 2011, she routinely performed 4km sets of hill repeats in training while her mum and dad drove behind in their car.
At the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Simone competed in four events, placing eighth in the individual pursuit C1-3 and road race C1-3, ninth in the 500m time trial C1-3 and 10th in the time trial C1-3.
Away from cycling, Simone enjoys playing golf and reading about her sporting heroes. She is currently studying for a Bachelor of Sports Coaching and Administration at the Australian College of Physical Education in Sydney.
In 10 years’ time, she hopes to have a few more Paralympic Games and medals under her belt and to be working as a sports coach.