By Sara Carrigan – Columnist for ‘Coast Multisport & Paddle’ Magazine

During the London 2012 Olympics, I experienced many mixed emotions but loved it all the same! It is so hard to believe that is 4years that I last competed at the Olympic Games in Beijing and 8 years since I won my Olympic Gold Medal at the Athens Olympics!  The memories are all so vivid that it seems like only yesterday! However, it also seems like an age ago when I think of how much I have jammed packed in the last 4 years following my retirement from elite sport and turning my hand to coaching, mentoring and ambassadorship to give back to my sport and my community that gave me so much to realise my dreams. Upon reflection, the last year alone has involved many exciting adventures! Some these have included:

1. SBS – I have been one of the hosts of the joint SBS-Cycling Australia ‘Women & Wheels’ Project, which aims to increase the overall coverage of women’s cycling, its athletes and opportunities. I have really enjoyed the experience of interviewing our country’s top female cyclists and helping to broadcast their journeys and successes to inspire others. Here is the link to all the interviews:

2. Cycling Tour to Japan – In conjunction with ‘Rising Sun Adventures’, I hosted my first cycling tour to Japan, based in the Japanese Alps in the town of Hakuba – the home of the 1998 Winter Olympics. I have ridden my bike in some of some of the world’s most amazing places and this is one of them, especially up Mt Fuji! I lead a group of recreational riders both male and female aged up to 60 years old and it was simply awe-inspiring witnessing everyone exceeding their own expectations of what they thought was possible!

Throughout the week of riding, it was just so beautiful pedalling through the rice paddies on quiet country roads. Showered by the cherry blossoms we rode by ancient temples and shrines, enjoyed lunch at restaurants that were over 1000 years old and even stopped at the natural hot springs (onsens) that were perfect for relaxing and easing the muscles. The direct flight from the Gold Coast into Tokyo arriving the same day, and no jet lag made the experience even more perfect! So will do it all again in May next year!

3. International Olympic Academy (IOA) – I was selected to represent the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) to attend the International Olympic Academy (IOA) from the 16th – 30th June 2012 in Ancient Olympia and Athens, Greece.  The AOC usually only nominates one female and one male to attend, so I felt most honoured and excited and I can honestly say it was 2 of the best weeks of my life with was an absolutely amazing group of people from all around the world!

My trip included presenting and participating in lectures, group discussion meetings, field trips to archaeological sites and museums, and involvement in extracurricular activities such as sports tournaments, games, art, song, dance, poetry, literature workshops, and numerous social events and activities. Returning to the place where I achieved one of my life dreams was magical and so too was the opportunity to learn and soak up the spirit of Ancient Olympia, the home of the Olympics!

4. 2012 Cycling Road World Championships – I was most excited to be one of the coaches looking after our junior women who represented Australia at the end of September at the World Champs in The Netherlands. Unbelievably, the course was the same as when I did Junior Worlds in 1998 so it felt rather special and as though it has come full circle. We stayed in Belgium for a month competing in Kermis races, which provided fantastic preparation for our riders. I put together a couple videos of some of the action.

Overall, the entire Australian team performed very well at the 2012 World Championships with 4 medals:

  • Silver RR Elite Women – Rachel Neylan
  • Silver RR Junior Men – Caleb Ewan
  • Silver TT U23 Men – Rohan Dennis
  • Bronze TT U23 Men – Damien Howson
  • 4th TT Junior Women – Emily Roper
  • 4th TT Junior Men – Alex Morgan

5. Induction into the GC Sporting Hall of Fame – What an honour! I was introduced to cycling on the Gold Coast at Somerset College and have since spent many hours over the last 17 years riding on our local roads enjoying the scenery, soaking up our beautiful weather, speeding around the Nerang Velodrome, hurting myself through the numerous climbs of our amazing hinterland, and I truly appreciate the support of my Gold Coast community. It is by no accident that the Goldie has produced numerous champions … The Gold Coast truly is a sporting mecca!

6. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Bid – The opportunity to represent my home town and travel to St Kitts and Nevis last November as part of the Gold Coast bid team to win the right to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018, is an experience that will be with me forever! I am so proud of the Gold Coast and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities this city has provided me to achieve some of my life dreams. So to be able to give back and help the Gold Coast win the right to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games … I know will inspire young children of our community and aspiring athletes to follow their dreams. As I mentioned above, the Gold Coast truly is a sporting mecca and we can now share this with the rest of the world!

Click here to view the actual magazine article