Rachel Neylan - Following The Dream

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Rachel Neylan - Following The Dream Empty Rachel Neylan - Following The Dream

Post by C.K on Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:38 am

This article is one I wrote for www.indaily.com.au this week, and appeared in today's edition.

Rachel's passion, determination and drive to succeed is one of the most inspiring I have seen in all of my years in journalism and she richly deserves the support to follow this dream. She is also an excellent public speaker, if you or your company are looking for someone to appear at a function to speak.

Rachel rides to a different dream
RUNNING, rowing and Australian football have paved the path that brought pro cyclist Rachel Neylan to Adelaide and a tilt at world cycling success.

Neylan is in her debut year with professional UCI team Abus Nutrixxion giving her new opportunities in the sport she took up just six years ago after injuries stalled her athletics career.

RACHEL’S long and winding road began at Little Athletics as an eight year old where kids dream and adults nudge – each secretly wondering what lies ahead.

Beginning as a hurdler, in the same program as world champion Jana Pittman, a succession of injuries kept her well away from Pittman’s stellar rise.

The injuries pushed her towards an academic pursuit; studying for a Bachelor in Applied Science in Physiotherapy in her native Sydney also meant a formal end her track career.

A role working as a physiotherapist for the Australian Rowing team, as well as with AFL club the Sydney Swans, rekindled the passion for elite sport.

A trip to Lausanne in Switzerland, inspired by a visit to the Olympic Museum, fired her further, but which sport would fit the dream wasn’t clear.

A chance scan on the internet one night brought up a reference to the South Australian Sports Institute Talent Identification Program in road cycling.

Rachel Neylan made two bold steps; she changed sports and changed cities.
Leaving her hometown of Sydney, and taking up a new set of skills still needed to be road tested.

“The initial change to cycling was interesting, but that first hill climb test ride up the old Freeway, as part of the program qualification, made me realise I could make the change”, the vibrant 29 year old said.

“(then) Head Coach Gary West’s feedback encouraged me further.”
Racing domestically and juggling part time work, Rachel began ticking a few boxes; a SASI Scholarship in late 2008, her first top ten finish in the gruelling New Zealand Tour in 2009 and then ten weeks in the United States guest riding for Californian based “Proman” (now Exergy 2012 Professional Team).

The next test would be a financial one – in 2010, a self-funded trip to Europe, the spiritual home of cycling.
“I’d hate to think of how much that trip cost me, but it really pushed me further mentally to keep working as hard as I could to keep making my mark”, Neylan reflected.

After her return to Australia she notched up a fourth place at the Australian National Championships and then was awarded the prestigious Amy Gillett Foundation Scholarship.
The scholarship honours the memory of Australian track cyclist and rower Amy Gillet, killed in a road accident in 2005; she had who represented Australia in both sports.

With support from the Scholarship’s partner, the Cycling Australia High Performance Program, a year racing in Europe with the Australian AIS National team became the launch pad for Neylan’s first professional contract on UCI team Diadora Pasta Zara in 2011.

The smooth ride to the top, however, would come to an abrupt halt.
A fractured pelvis in July 2011 resulted in a torturous rehabilitation of up to six hours a day.
Close to returning to competition, Rachel was hit by a car on Grange Road, re-fracturing the pelvis and starting the gruelling cycle all over again.
Something that could have knocked down many athletes has only made Neylan more determined to reach her goals.

With 2012 being an Olympic year, the first impulse was to aim for London, but there is a slight problem with this for the specialist hill climber.
“The London course will simply not be very hilly at all, so one of my primary strengths really won’t come into play. My aim this year, after the Women’s New Zealand Tour and the UCI Oceania Championships, is to gain selection for the World Championships in September.”
There is a solid support network to get her there.

Her new professional team, Abus Nutrixxion (for whom she registered a podium finish is her first race this year, the Australian National Championship) provides invaluable physical and moral support.

“My coaches, SASI’s Tim Decker and Warren McDonald are pivotal to my successes for sharing so much expertise, particularly with their experience in Europe.
“Tracey Gaudry, CEO of the Amy Gillett Foundation (AGF), has been fantastic over the years as a sounding board, and always passes on her experience as a dual Olympian as a mentor and great friend.”

Rachel also finds inspiration from those early days in Sydney.
“Certainly my family have been fantastic also. Mum and Dad taking me to Little Athletics as a kid and to countless training nights throughout my teenage years, as well as my four siblings being very supportive, there have always been so many behind me, and I’m so grateful for that.”

The passion and determination of Rachel Neylan in 2012 suggest a broader view of sport; a view beyond the medal podium.
“I am a big believer that through active promotion of sport and filtering it into the community through increased participation at all levels - whatever it may be, we can empower people to live more active, healthier and happier lives,” she enthused.

“I thoroughly enjoy supporting Not For Profit organisations like the AGF and Tour De Cure that promote safe cycling and raise much needed funds for Cancer / Health Initiatives in out sport - there is a lot to give outside the day to day grind of training and that’s the amazing thing about cycling; the capacity it has to reach into the community and affect people primarily through health but also environmental and economic benefits.”

Running her own physiotherapy consulting business, through www.physiorevolution.com, and looking to keep making her own luck, financial support is still is still a tough proposition in a medium profile sport.

While she has a number of product sponsors, such as SRM, Endura, Jurlique, Brookfarm and 2XU, she still has to self-fund the journey.

With more support and a bit of luck, September 2012 will be a reality.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get,” she chuckled.

If you or your company would like to support Rachel, please contact her at
www.rachelneylan.com for more information.

Rachel Neylan - Following The Dream Rachel10
Rachel on the far right

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Post by Big Phil on Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:49 pm

Nice article CK, an enjoyable read...
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Post by Lee on Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:33 pm

Thanks, CK, it's really nice to get such a good insight into the commitment and ups and downs of her progress in sport.

A valuable read that does a service to her dedication.

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Post by A Mum on Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:15 am

Wow - what an insperation she is.
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