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Kate Horan, MNZM

As a sponsor of the Wellington Sportsperson of the Year Awards, Cigna is privileged to meet some of New Zealand’s most inspiring and talented athletes. They include Kate Horan, an outstanding Paralympics sprinter and cyclist who in June was awarded the title of Cigna Disabled Sportsperson of the Year.

Sport has been Kate’s passion since she was 17, when as a young mother she needed a safe way to deal with the challenges that life had sent her way – including a below-knee amputation of her left leg when she was just five years old.

“I started simply, by putting the kids in the pram and going walking,” she says. “It felt so good just to get out and be active, so I began setting myself goals and challenges. I absolutely loved it – it helped me to deal with my frustration and unhappiness and to feel better about myself. I think it made me a better mum.”

Kate took up sprinting in 2003 and just a year later competed at her first Paralympic Games, in Athens. Four years later she won a silver medal in the 200 metres in Beijing.

In 2012, owing to injury niggles and the tough demands of athletics, Kate switched codes to paracycling. Despite her initial lack of confidence she thrived, winning her first national title a year later. At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro she won three top-10 placings, and in March this year, again in Rio, she won the silver medal in the 500-metre time trial of the UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships.

Kate’s now training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and has some words of wisdom for those of us who struggle to find the motivation to exercise.

“There’s no such thing as not having enough time,” she says. “Little things can make a big difference, such as walking to work or parking further away and walking from there, using stairs not lifts or escalators, and jogging instead of strolling. Remember, the hardest thing about exercise is getting ready; once you’re out there you’ll love it. Believe me!

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