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Paralympian cyclist to take on Canterbury challenge

26 November 2012

Paralympian cyclist to take on Canterbury challenge

2012 has been a big year for cyclist Sue Reid. In September she debuted at the London paralympics and narrowly missed a place on the winners’ podium when she achieved fourth place in her time trial. Just two days later, she crossed the finish line in eighth place, following an outstanding ride around the 50 kilometre road circuit, competing against a field of much younger competitors.

On Sunday 2 December, Sue will take on the cyclists and members of the public gathered in Canterbury for the annual Benchmark Homes Festival of Cycling. Reid, a world-ranking hand cyclist, will be visiting Christchurch along with her coach John Rich, as guests of The New Zealand Spinal Trust (NZST). NZST is the official charity of the event and competitors are being invited to get online to help raise $10,000 for the Trust.

Reid’s cycling achievements are compelling proof that having a spinal cord impairment (SCI) is no barrier to leading a full – and successful life. In 2003 she had a cycling accident while out on a training ride. Her spine was fractured in three places and she was left paralysed from the waist down. Just three months later, she was back working as a veterinarian. The following year, she was introduced to hand cycling and found she was naturally suited to the demanding mode of racing.

Over recent years she has won bronze medals at World Championships on two occasions, lining up against fields of competitors as much as 20 years younger. Her positive attitude and remarkable success on the international circuit has been an inspiration to many people who have had a spinal cord impairment. As Reid says, “If you fall off a horse you should get straight back on it. I’ve kind of done that.”

Reid is just one of the celebrity riders and guests coming to Canterbury to help promote the NZST. A number of prominent sports personalities - including Crusaders and Olympians Mark Ryan and Westely Gough – as well as politicians, will be competing in a celebrity showcase known as the Free Wheelin’ Frenzy 150 on Sunday 2 December. The entertainment comes in the form of 12 personalities racing a 150-metre leg of this course in a no-holds-barred wheelchair race. Reid will display her high tech hand bike and challenge members of the public to pit their skill against her in a hand-cycle erg test.

Event coordinator, Hans Wouters, from NZST, says the opportunity to align with the cycling festival is hugely important, both in terms of raising profile and raising funds. “We are so excited by the association. Many of the people we work alongside have been keen sports people prior to suffering spinal cord impairment. By being chosen as the official festival charity, we can make a connection with cyclists, their friends and families in a way that enables them to pay it forward for the benefit of those who can no longer participate in an active way in the sport of cycling.”

Anyone who enters the Festival can set up a personal online page on Fundraise Online , or via Everyday Hero, dedicated websites where competitors post images, blog about their training schedules, their regime in the lead up to the event, their thrills and spills as they prepare for the two-day festival of cycling.

The NZ Spinal Trust was established in 1994 to address the unmet needs of rehabilitation, information, research, advocacy and support for people with Spinal Cord Impairments so that they can enjoy independent, productive and confident lives. Funds will be used to support programmes and initiatives that connect, rehabilitate and educate people with spinal cord injuries. “Every little bit helps, whether it is $10 or $100, it all adds up to helping us to make a big difference,” Wouters says.

The NZST will also be adding to the spectacle of the Festival’s euro-style cycling entertainment on Sunday 2 December. The Festival of Cycling Criterium will see some of New Zealand’s best riders battling for times and honours on a tight one-kilometre criterium road track near Canterbury University.


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