Kate Horan is known for her multiple sporting talents, across both Para athletics and Para cycling. Just a year after taking up sprinting the Wellington-based mum-of-three made her Paralympic debut at the Athens 2004 Paralympics but despite setting a world record in the T44 400m she missed out on a medal due to the competition format.
Four years later in front of 92,000 spectators at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, Kate finally mounted the Paralympic podium taking silver in the T44 200m an achievement she describes as “mindblowing”.
Unfortunately, a combination of factors, including giving birth to her third child in late 2011 and a serious tendon tear in her hamstring, ruled her out of the reckoning for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Struggling to cope with the demands of athletics training after years of wear and tear on the body Paralympics New Zealand chiefs advised her to switch to the lower impact sport of Para cycling. Kate agreed, although she had low expectations.
“I didn’t have much confidence riding a bike,” she explains. “I spend months training indoors and I would only train outside when there was no wind in perfect weather.”
However, she discovered when thrust into heat of competition “all her fears left her” and she thrived. After just a year on the bike she won her first national title at the 2013 NZ Club Road National Championships and the below the knee amputee has since excelled internationally winning back-to-back medals in the C4 500m Time Trial at the past four editions of the UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships, three silver and one bronze.
“I was delighted (to win the four medals) because it showed the huge commitment I had made to switching sport had worked,” she adds. The 2018 edition of the World Championships had special significance as she returned to the velodrome in Rio to win a medal after coming so close at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games where she achieved three top 10 placings. Kate was part of the New Zealand Paralympic Team that won a stunning 21 medals across 12 individual medallists in 2016 (9 gold, 5 silver and 7 bronze). The Team finished first in the world per capita and 13th in the world overall (previous best: 16th).
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