Interview with HongKong Ecozine
by Ecozine Staff, 27th September 2012
Ecozine: What started your passion for biking?
Sara: I grew up on a farm so was in many sports but it wasn’t until I was 15 at school that I was first introduced to cycling when the local cycling club (CATS) came to test students for potential. I was one of 15 students chosen and was given a bike for 10 weeks to discover and enjoy the wonders of road cycling. I had no idea what a road bike was or that the entire world of cycling existed but from that moment I absolutely loved it … and haven’t looked back!
Ecozine: How has your journey been since competing in the Olympics?
Sara: I knew that upon finishing with my professional life as an athlete, I wanted to pursue my ambition of passing on my years of cycling knowledge and experience to others – to help them relish in the simple joy and wonder of riding a bike that I’ve enjoyed for over 17 years.
After the Beijing Olympics, I established ‘Sara Carrigan Cycling’ with an aim to provide a friendly, fun and safe environment to deliver rudimentary cycling training and skills development for all levels of ability from total beginners to the more experienced.
It has been such a rewarding experience so far; the decision for most to partake in a simple cycling skill course has developed into a positive life changing process for both themselves and those around them. It has presented people an opportunity to overcome fears, to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, to meet like-minded people, to feel empowered to make positive lifestyle choices, and to feel bold, strong and full of energy. Ultimately, self-confidence and enduring relationships have been the result with a motivation for life that is far greater! Love it!
Ecozine: Could you share more about your travels? Any places you particularly enjoyed cycling in?
Sara: I have lived, trained and competed in some of the most amazing places around the world. On a bike, we are able to really immerse ourselves into another culture, see and experience things that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to if we were a tourist on a bus or in a car. One of my favourite places to train was in the Swiss-Italian Alps with such amazing countryside and breathtaking views.
However, there is nothing quite like cruising at home along the esplanade beside our beautiful Gold Coast coastline indulging in the splendor of dawn, watching the sunrise creep over the horizon and across the beach, and feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays finally splashing across our faces and lighting up our world. Just wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Ecozine: What are your thoughts about being a female athlete? Has it been challenging?
Sara: Being a female athlete in a male dominated sport such as cycling can be a challenge to strive for equality in opportunities, media coverage, wages, conditions and respect. In fact, when I first started, there were men in the racing fraternity that believed women shouldn’t be on bikes! However, I have been a part of both the transformation of women’s racing to what is now a dynamic exciting spectacle and also the growth of women’s cycling from a grassroots level with ladies of all ages getting out on bicycles and relishing in the social time, challenges and sheer joy that comes with rolling along on two wheels.
Being a successful female athlete in any sport provides the opportunity to inspire other females to be bold, adventurous and to pursue their passions.
Ecozine: What has been the most rewarding thing in your journey?
Sara: It was such a special time for me to be crowned Olympic Champion! It was a dream of mine since I was a little girl to represent Australia at the Olympic Games and to win Gold. It was even more special to have Mum and Dad there in Athens to share it with them; they have been my biggest support! Crossing the finish the line in Athens was such a mix of emotion with elation, shock excitement, disbelief, happiness, and then a quiet moment of realisation and pride that I had done it, all the years of commitment, hard work, and persistence had culminated to achieving my dream – Olympic Gold! One of the most incredible things about winning the Gold is realising the effect it has on the people close to me and those whom I don’t know – around Australia and internationally. The ability to have such a positive effect on people’s lives has been a most humbling and life-changing experience! People’s support, admiration and respect continue to blow me away.
Ecozine: What have been the most challenging experiences you’ve had as an athlete?
Sara: One of my major challenges as an athlete was in fact to cease being an athlete. There is no better feeling in the world than being in peak physical condition. There is no greater satisfaction than when the hours of diligence, courage, and resilience collide with that moment of opportunity to deliver yourself within a whisper of your own personal perfection and to places at the edge of your dreams. It is just pure ecstasy to emerge victorious in the greatest and most important battle of all – the conquest of self.
One thing I have learned since moving on from being an elite athlete is that success in any arena in life are determined far more by spirit and ability to fight, than anything else.
Ecozine: Do you work with charities or form partnerships to support causes?
Sara: I passionately volunteer my time to various committees and organizations to spread the greater good of cycling and all it offers. Some of these include being a board member of Cycling Queensland, contributing to various committees of Gold Coast 2018, President of Bicycle Gold Coast, club coach at my local cycling club CATS, and going to schools to spread ‘gold medal messages’ to students. I also act as ambassador for programs such as the Gold Coast City Council Active Travel Program so I can help people enjoy making an active step towards a happier, healthier, more productive lifestyle; and ambassador for events such as the 100km Brisbane-GoldCoast Ride in which over 10,000 participants take part to support diabetes.
Ecozine: What are your plans for the next five to ten years?
Sara: My plans for the next five to ten years will involve creating a family of my own and enjoying some quiet home time with my friends. However, my life will always involve cycling; it is one of my true loves.
Ecozine: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Sara: The beautiful thing about cycling is that there are many simple pleasures and benefits from pedalling a ‘pushie’. Cycling can be a great way to get a load off your mind and ‘de-stress’, and it can be one of the very best ways to start the day feeling productive; enjoying a relaxing ride by yourself or with a group of friends, engaging in a good ol’ chinwag on the bike or at the coffee shop afterwards. I love road cycling for its freedom! I love that I can ride wherever and whenever I choose. I can pedal through mountains or alongside the beach, suck in the fresh air, enjoy the beauty of the breathtaking views, and relish in the feel of being at one with nature. Just pure beauty.
Ecozine website: http://ecozine.com/article/sara-carrigan