Three-time Paralympian Kate Horan has today announced she will be retiring from the sport of Para cycling in order to focus on her family and seek new challenges.

Horan made her Paralympic Games debut at the Athens 2004 Paralympics after only taking up sprinting one year prior to Athens. She set a world record in the Women’s 400m T44 but she missed out on a medal due to the competition format at the time. 

Four years later in front of 92,000 spectators at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing 2008, Horan mounted the Paralympic podium taking silver in the Women’s 200m T44, an achievement she describes as “mind blowing”.

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 selection for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Not long after this Horan was struggling to cope with the demands of Para athletics training after years of wear and tear on her body and Paralympics New Zealand High Performance Team advised her to switch to the lower impact sport of Para cycling. Horan went on to win 4 World Championship medals in the velodrome and place 4th, 6th and 8th at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Kate Horan said: “I always thought I would be dragged away kicking and screaming from Para sport as it means so much to me. However racing recently in Cambridge I realised as I came off the track that I was done. I always thought it would be my body that would stop me; but it is all about the mental edge and drive that is needed to compete at the highest level. I no longer have this so now is the time to retire.”

She continued: “Para sport has kept me on the straight and narrow and helped me get through so many challenges in life. I have invested 16 years of my life in Para sport but it has given me so much. When I first started I was very uncomfortable with being different as an amputee however Para sport and the amazing people I have met, raced with and trained with have changed my view of myself in the most positive way. I am looking forward to starting a new journey and competing in the 2021 Coast to Coast. For now I just want to enjoy the festive season and school holidays with my wonderful family.”

Throughout Horan’s 16 years as a high performance Para athlete she has had many experiences however when asked what the highlight has been she said: “It was definitely being awarded the MNZM for services to Paralympic sport in 2017. A real honour and celebration of what Para sport means to me.”

Malcolm Humm (High Performance Director, Paralympics New Zealand) said: “Kate has been one of New Zealand Para sport’s stalwarts having competed internationally for close to two decades in two Para sports. Her achievements across 3 Paralympic Games and numerous World Championships have been outstanding. Added to this breaking the Women’s 200m Flying Sprint C4 world record in 2015 and 2016. Throughout this time Kate has been a role model for many young Para athletes as she has constantly delivered a non-compromised approach to training and competition while raising her family. We look forward to working with Kate to continue her involvement with the Paralympic family and wish her all the best for the future.”

Horan was a key member of the New Zealand Paralympic Team that produced performances in Rio making it the country’s most successful Paralympic Games ever. The New Zealand Paralympic Team secured a stunning 21 medals across 12 individual medallists – 9 gold, 5 silver and 7 bronze. Overall, the Team placed 13 out of 159 on the medal table, its highest placing ever, and defended its title of number 1 in the world for medals won per capita during London 2012.

Photo: Getty Images

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