We have a Paralympian in our midst at Push Mobility. Grant Allen, our South Australian Manager, will be competing in the Men’s H4 handcycling events at the Tokyo Paralympics later this month!
After just missing out on Rio in 2016, this will be Grant’s first Paralympic Games. It’s a tough feat trying to make the Australian Paralympic Team, or any international team, as spots are limited. Grant only found out he qualified for Tokyo in early July, less than two months from the starting gun.
“You have to always prepare like you’re going, and then if you don’t go, you don’t go, I guess,” Grant says. “You should just never take it for granted or never expect anything like that.”
Being named for the Paralympics is an honour, privilege—and relief—for Grant, but actually going and getting a result is a whole other thing. To prepare, he has been rising very early most mornings to hop on the stationary indoor trainer connected to his Carbonbike handcycle in the garage, all before his two kids wake up for school and he heads off to work full time at Push. Grant also gets out on the road when he can.
“Most of the other guys that I race against, a number of the key ones, are pretty privileged in the fact that it's their full time job as an athlete and they can make a living out of it,” says Grant, but this doesn’t scare him off racing at the highest level.
“You know, you just do what you have to do. It's a choice I make and, yeah, I enjoy it. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it,” he says
Grant has always loved cycling, and was training for a mountain bike race when he sustained a spinal cord injury just over ten years ago. Handcycling was a natural progression and it wasn’t long after the accident that he, quite literally, got back on the bike.
It hasn’t been an easy ride to Tokyo. Like a lot of the competitors in his class, Grant is in his forties, having suffered an injury later in life. From there, Grant says it takes about ten years to get good at your sport.
“It takes a long time though to train your body, to go from using legs to arms and things like that,” he says. “It takes a lot of time to adapt and to get good at it as well. So it’s not something that happens overnight.”
“It takes a lot of time to adapt and to get good at it as well. So it’s not something that happens overnight.”
While racing is serious business and competing at the Paralympics is not for everyone, Grant says that shouldn’t discourage people from getting involved in sport either seriously or for fun.
“There are so many people that have a disability that are actually scared to sort of put themselves out there and put themselves on the start line, but nothing is easy,” says Grant. “When I started, I was woeful. I remember the very first ride that I did, thinking I was going to be amazing, thinking that I was fit and I was strong. And I was fit and strong, but nowhere near fit and strong enough, like I am now. I guess we all have to start somewhere, no one's great when they begin. Keep pushing yourself.”
A realist by nature, Grant has his head down and is keeping positive only weeks from arriving in Tokyo.
“For me, I honestly just want to get over there and have fun riding my bike, really,” he says. “I guess that's the main thing. If I'm riding my bike and having fun, you know, good things happen.”
Catch Grant in the men's H4 class time trial on 31st August, and the road race on 1st September. Find out how to watch here. Go Grant!