Quick Facts

Physical Impairment – Spinal cord damage
How acquired
Playing hockey
Date of Birth
May 30, 1967
Canberra, ACT
Environmental Scientist
Started Competing
First Competed for Australia
Games Experience

London 2012

Career Highlights

Winning a Paralympic gold medal on the first day of the London 2012 Games. It was also the first gold for Australia

Greatest Moment

Seeing Cathy Freeman win the 400m gold at Sydney 2000


Despite having only taken up cycling in 2007, Susan Powell has proven herself to be a professional on the track and road, and made headlines when she won Australia’s first gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Susan claimed victory in the 3km individual pursuit ahead of fellow Australian Alexandra Green who won bronze. Susan describes the win as one of the greatest moments of her life, followed closely by the silver medal she won days later on the road.

Professional cycling came later in Susan’s life when, at 40 years old, she suffered a seemingly innocuous spinal injury while playing hockey. Injuring her sciatica, the accident left her with nerve damage and resulted in weakened movement and strength in her right leg.

Having completed a novice racing program with her local cycling club as an able-bodied cyclist years earlier with Paralympic champion Michael Milton, she decided to use him as inspiration and get back on her bike as a form of rehab.

Impressed by her speeds, Para-cycling coach Sian Mulholland encouraged her to pursue Para-cycling but Susan dismissed the idea, thinking that at 40 she was too old and that her disability wasn’t severe enough. Months later, Sian’s persistence paid off and she was classified.

Susan’s first year of competition was startling, winning the 2009 World Championship in the road race, and national titles in the road race and individual time trial.

On top of her Paralympic gold medal, she holds the world title for the women’s 3km individual pursuit C4, and has medalled at every World Championships since 2011.

Outside of cycling, Susan loves spending time in the great outdoors and took her passion so far as to become an Environmental Scientist. In 2011, she completed her PHD and after being awarded an Order of Australia Medal, is proud of her official title as Dr. Susan Powell OAM.

Susan’s mother provides her with a great source of inspiration. She credits her for passing on her values of doing everything to the best of her ability and passing on her love of the outdoors. As a tribute to her, she wears her mum’s wedding ring and makes sure she wears it each time she competes.

One of Susan’s mottos in life is ‘don’t count your days, make your days count,’ which is helping her keep perspective ahead of Rio. Despite turning 49 before Rio, she is using this motto to encourage her to continue reaching new heights and hopes to set a new personal best at Rio.

Sports & Disciplines

  • Sport: Cycling Disciplines: Time trial Classification: C4
  • Sport: Cycling Disciplines: Individual pursuit Classification: C4
  • Sport: Cycling Disciplines: Team sprint (mixed) Classification: C4
  • Sport: Cycling Disciplines: Road race Classification: C4
  • Sport: Cycling Disciplines: Road time trial Classification: C4