Q&A - AMANDA REID ON DISCRIMINATION, BULLYING AND WINNING: “I just leave it all on the track”

IN{TV}

Posted 15th April 2020

Former AIME mentee Amanda Reid is a champion swimmer and cyclist. She holds five gold medals, five silver medals and is the current world record holder for the Para-cycling C2 500m race. She has competed across the world and has been recognised with multiple awards, including NAIDOC Sportsperson of the year in 20172, the New South Wales Athlete with a Disability In 2017 and the Australia Day Ambassador for the Dubbo Regional Council. But she has also had to deal with bullying, discrimination and racism because of her upbringing, her disability and her race. She will be making the keynote presentation this Thursday on IMAGI-NATION {TV}.

Each week, AIME's Global Head of Partnerships, Parul Punjabi Jagdish, catches up with one of our keynote guests on IMAGI-NATION {TV} along with the show’s Founder and host, Jack Manning Bancroft.

In this week’s Q&A, Amanda talks to Parul and Jack about being unfairly treated, overcoming adversity, and what pushes her to win.

Keynote - Amanda Reid

Parul: What are the biggest obstacles you've had to overcome, and how have you created opportunities out of them?

Amanda: Bullying would be one, and being indigenous and living in government housing. [These things] put together make a lovely mix for people to really put you down with.

Jack: How do you navigate racism [as a] kid trying to deal with that? The privilege of [having light skin is that] I don’t face the same discrimination as some of my family who have darker skin. I'd be fascinated with how you've tried to navigate it.

Amanda: I think one of the hardest things is [hearing] ‘but you don't look Aboriginal… You're not dark skinned’... You don't have to have dark skin [to be aboriginal]. It's my history. You can have blonde hair, blue eyes, and you can still be Aboriginal. Dealing with racism, in that way... was hard. Luckily I have a good support network. Most of the time you just learn to ignore it… just keep going. That's all you can do.

Parul: Tell us about some of the things you've just accomplished in the past 12 months.

Amanda: I made the [World Championships] in 2019… I broke my world record in my 500 meter time trial in C2 [a paracyling sport class for track cycling]... That was great. I wasn't doing so well the year before because I had to deal with bullying… I lost interest in the sport that I loved. I had to find a love for that sport again, and [I had to realise] that it wasn't my fault for being bullied.

My cycling team finally realized what was going on and that it was really affecting me. They stepped up and my whole support team [did too]. I realized that I really did love the sport. I love track cycling. I love riding around with no breaks on my bike and going really fast! So I knuckled down and got back into training. The next year, I broke the world record… And then I had the [Brisbane Para-Cycling Track] Grand Prix event at the [Tissot UCI Track Cycling] World Cup... I broke my world record there again, which I didn't expect! And then at the [World Championships] I broke my world record again (and got the gold!). Then I did this 10K scratch race - and I ended up winning it too!

Jack: I want to hear about the moment that you fell in love with cycling again… after having that experience with bullying and losing the love of the sport. Can you remember that moment?

Amanda: It was at the top of the Olympic T-Bar at Perisher on my snowboard. I was looking out, and up the top you can see everything. It's a beautiful view, [and I thought] ‘why am I letting this get to me? It's not my fault. I didn't do anything wrong’. I [realised] that I'm not going to let this get to me. This is my sport. I love this sport. [I was] looking over those mountains from the top of Olympic T-Bar at Perisher, to a week later being on my track bike… I just came back a different person.

Jack: What keeps you going when the whole body's burning, and everything is saying stop? And when you sprint, what do you call on? Is there something in your brain or your body that you can activate?

Amanda: It's over and done within 39 seconds now. You don't have much time to think in that aspect. But, what makes me go is [the thought that] when you get into that stock gate you’ve got one thing to do, and that one thing is to win… I'm very competitive. You get to that start line and you think of how much you've achieved, and what you've been through, [and how you want] to prove to other people that you're better than what they've made you out to be. So for me, I just [leave] it all on the track. I have dealt with bullying, racism, people putting me down in the media about my disability, [and I] just leave it all on the velodrome.

Jack: When you've got pain in your body after 400 meters of that sprint, what allows you to get that last hundred meters? What is getting you over that line?

Amanda: Knowing that you will be the best in the world if you win this race... I just put my head down and go. I know I can do this. I know I can. I've trained. I've done all this. Just go, go, go.

Parul Punjabi Jagdish
15th April 2020
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