Name: Hannah Macdougall
What is your dream?
My dream is to be the first female amputee to compete at the 2017 Cycling Australia National Road Championships in the time trial discipline. I am also aiming to come home in the rainbow stripes from the 2017 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships in South Africa next year.
Tell us a bit about you.
I am not the type of woman who lets things get in the way of achieving her goals. I was born without a right foot and a fibula (lower leg bone) and have been an elite athlete since I was 12 years old. Since this time I have represented Australia at two Paralympic Games and three world championships across two different sports – swimming and cycling. I have also been a world record holder in the 50m backstroke and was given the honour of captaining the Australian swimming team at the Beijing Paralympics.
How have you demonstrated commitment?
Firstly, I have been through a 2.5year hip rehabilitation and two hip surgeries as I wasn’t quite built for cycling. Secondly, I was the first reserve for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. For a long time, this was my dream. However after narrowly missing out, I have refocused on setting new challenges such as becoming the first female amputee to compete alongside the ‘able-bodied’ athletes at the 2017 Cycling Australia Road National Championships. I think I have also dedicated commitment to my dream by balancing my sport with my career, a PhD in athlete wellbeing and work at the Victorian Institute of Sport and as a motivational speaker.
What challenges do you face?
The obvious challenges of being an elite para-athlete include financial struggles and challenges related to my missing bit, aka ‘stumpy’. I have suffered through extra bone growth due to ill-fitting prosthetic cycling legs, as well as am in regular pain due to the changing volume of my leg as the weather/seasons change. Sport for Paralympians is also still far from equal, in terms of the ability we have to compete at different events, the sporting pathways, the funding we receive, the recognition within the media, and the discriminatory attitudes that are unfortunately still in existence.
How will you use the money?
The grant money will help me continue the journey of producing a custom-made prosthetic cycling leg that not only permits optimal performance but will also allow me to ride pain-free. Because ‘stumpy’ is a bit of weird shape, we need to get custom-made liners through a German company, as well as specific-made sockets.
How do you plan to give back?
I think it is critical that sportspeople acknowledge the support they have received whenever they can. I like to give back to the community through motivational talks that I do through not-for-profits such as 'Just B U'. I am also an ambassador for 'Access for All Abilities' where we look to encourage people into sport. I also share the knowledge I have gained through my PhD on athlete well-being, and look to create more inclusive environments in the future.