Amanda Reid has written her name into the history books becoming the first Aboriginal Australian to claim a cycling gold medal at a Paralympic Games.
“I’m a proud Wemba Wemba and Guring-gai woman and to be the first Aboriginal woman to win a cycling medal at the Paralympic Games is just deadly,” said the 24 year old on becoming Paralympic Games champion in the 500m time trial C1-3.
“I’m just so happy to be wearing our indigenous ‘Journey’ design and riding for my mob here in Tokyo.
“I hope to inspire more indigenous kids with disabilities back in Australia to start a sport and achieve their dreams like I have.”
Reid’s actual time of 38.487 ridden in the final clipped almost half a second off the C2 world record she set in Brisbane in December 2020 and was the fastest of the day even before her time was factored down to 35.581 due to the combined classification of the event.
That put her almost half a second ahead of silver medallist Alyda Norbruis – the Dutch woman who defeated her in Rio five years ago. A five-time track para-cycling world champion, Reid, who has cerebral palsy and an intellectual impairment, says she was initially unsure of the time she had ridden.
“I don’t have my glasses on so I can’t actually see the board and the foam in my helmet makes it hard to hear so as I crossed the line I had to wait until I stopped to be told what my time was so there were a few laps before I knew.”
Reid says her world record pace it actually felt pretty wobbly to her.
“When I got into the start gate, I was already feeling a bit wobbly and shaky because my cerebral palsy and then I got out of the gate and I was like, ‘Oh, this is very wobbly, come on body get it together,” said Reid. “Then I just sort of had to hold, hold on really tight and just keep going and powering through it and hold on for dear life in that second lap.
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In men’s racing Alistair Donohoe claimed a second consecutive Paralympic Games silver medal for the 4000m individual pursuit C5 in an event where there was an all out assault on the world record mark set by Australian Michael Gallagher in 2014.
Five riders lowered the mark including Donohoe who, with a PB of 4:20.813, clipped almost four-seconds off the time set by his former team mate at altitude in Mexico.
Donohoe measured his ride to perfection surging over the final lap of 16 to just edge out defending Games champion and long-time rival Yehor Dementyev of Ukraine and earn a berth in the gold medal final but it would be against Frenchman Dorian Foulon who was two seconds quicker in 4:18.274.
“This morning was amazing,” said Donohoe. “I think I was super super nervous and excited going into it not knowing exactly what I could deliver but seeing the red hot times that were coming through, as we were getting close it really pushed me,” said Donohoe who was thrilled with his qualifying heat ride but not with his finals ride.
“It’s really hard when you get so worked up early to get that same kind of level of arousal, it’s not your legs it’s, it’s your mind and everything that goes into the first ride,” he explained. “I’m pretty disappointed that I couldn’t back up because I know that I could ride faster than I rode in the qualifier, given the right circumstances.”
Both he and Foulon were slower in their second ride but the Frenchman had a two-second lead after the first kilometre and Donohoe was unable to reel him back in. At the finish line Donohoe’s 4:24.095 was more than three-seconds slower than Foulon (4:20.757).
“I knew that going into the final I couldn’t use that same approach (as in qualifying) so I had to go out harder and not die wondering,” he said. “I left everything out there and he got the better of me so I really can’t be unhappy.
“It was just such quick times and I’m stoked about that – so it’s probably the best silver I’ve ever had, but it’s also such a hard, hard pill to swallow.”
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In the men’s kilometre time trial C1-3 Sydney’s Gordon Allan made his Paralympic Games debut with a C2 world record of 1:10.331 only to see another Frenchman, Alexandre Leaute, break that mark. Allan then had to wait for five more riders to finish before confirmation that his factored time of 1:06.083 had given him fifth place overall in the C1-3 combined event.
“There was a lot going through my mind when I got off the bike because the last six months have been pretty up and down so I think to pull out a PB (personal best) and my best performance on a big stage I’m over the moon, I’m stoked,” said Allan who is philosophical about the short time he held the world record.
“It’s a pretty tight field with the C2 men in the kilo and there have been other times when I’ve broken the record and then they’ve broken the record so it shows how tough the competition is.”
But the 23 year old, who has been on the podium in the C2 event at the last two World Championships, says he’s up for the challenge.
“Definitely it’s going to be case of go home, have a few weeks off and then get back into it,” he said. “Paris is in a few years and I’ve got a taste for the Paralympic Games and I just want to do it again.”
Reid and Allan will be back on the track tomorrow (Saturday 28 August) in the team sprint event with Meg Lemon leading out the trio for the three lap race.
“The team sprint with Amanda and Megs will be a good way to finish off the track competition for us,” said Allan.
Australians in action on Saturday 28 August at Izu Velodrome:
– 10:45 (11:45 AEST) – Mixed 750m team sprint (C1-5) qualifying – Meg Lemon, Amanda Reid and Gordon Allan
– 12:35 (13:35 AEST) – Mixed 750m team sprint (C1-5) finals – Meg Lemon, Amanda Reid and Gordon Allan*
*Pending qualification results
By Paralympics Australia
Posted: 27 August 2021
Image: Mathilde Dusol