Meet our brand ambassador - Hannah Macdougall
Interview with Hannah Macdougall
We are delighted to introduce a dual Paralympian Hannah Macdougall, as our brand ambassador! A few interesting facts to start with:
PhD in Athlete wellbeing, but struggles with reading maps
Still in search of Melbourne’s best baked eggs.
Working at the mental health foundation ‘Love Me Love You’
Will order decaf coffee when not needing to compete (one of ’those’); competition = triple espresso
Lover of all things yellow
Never been to an AFL match despite born and bred in Melbourne
A former Paralympic swimmer (since 1999, don’t do the maths…), world record holder and Bronze medallist at the Athens Paralympics in 2004, Hannah has competed at the elite sporting level for more than 20 years. In 2022, the new Korowa swimming pool was named in her honour (on her to do list, Hannah had ‘Don’t cark it before pool opening; this honour is crazy amazeballs…).
Hannah’s motto is “live with a smile, live with a purpose, live in the moment”.
How did your cycling journey start?
After ten years of being an elite swimmer, I found myself quite burnt out. BUT I still wanted to go to the Paralympics, be an elite athlete, do all those crazy things. So, through a process of elimination (have I mentioned I have NO hand eye coordination skills with a Harry Potter scar to proof it?!!), I found cycling. And it was the beginning of my love affair.
2002/03 World Record in the S10 Women’s 50m Backstroke
2004 Athens Paralympic Games – Bronze Medal in the 4 x 100m Female Medley Relay, 4th in the S10 100m Backstroke
2008 Beijing Paralympic Games – Team Captain for the Australian Paralympic Swim Team; competed in 100m backstroke and 200 IM
2010-2020 Australian Para Road and Track Cycling Championships – 3 x Gold, 9 x Silver and 14 x Bronze Medals in the Women’s C4 classification
2015 – 2019 UCI Para Cycling Road World Cups – 2 x Gold, 5 x Silver, and 3 x Bronze medals in the women’s C4 road race and time trial
How do you normally cope with having a break in regular cycling activities after an injury?
Mmm, this is a good one! I have had more injuries than I can count on all my toes (and I have many many prosthetic legs so that it’s a lot of toes….) I give myself space to have a pity party for sure, space to wallow and feel sorry for myself. And then I start to shift to asking for help within my support network, and reframing how I will spend the next 4 - 6 weeks e.g., can I focus more heavily on learning French, can I swim more, can I do gym instead. My favourites are spending time in the sauna, reading books, breathwork, and getting out in nature.
Tell us more about motivational speaking you do?
I have been doing motivational speaking since 2004. It all started when my German teacher at school asked if I could come and speak for her daughter’s class in primary school. So, I went and shared my journey about being an amputee, being an elite athlete in swimming, and talked about my expectations for the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
Since this time, I have done so many different types of speaking - from keynotes, to MC gigs, to facilitating workshops - for people of all ages - school kids, corporates, Australian Federal Police, Universities - the list goes on!! What I love about it is that it makes me feel alive and connected. Having those moments where you can create light bulbs for people, creating genuine change. And also having a laugh is VIP!
What motivates you?
I think it helps that I love cycling - cycling is my freedom, my soul, my connection. It helps my mental health, my physical health, my overall wellbeing. I love coming down a hill on my bike, having a sense of adventure, or feeling that I have achieved something.
But I also have a strong commitment to what I do - whether it be to get my body back to some stability after the recent surgeries and injuries, or whether it was working towards a Paralympic Games. Commitment is key. And then having a coach to hold you accountable.
What kind of burdens and challenges do you come across as a para-athlete?
For sure I have had many challenges with my residual limb, a.k.a. my stumpstinator. Stumpy has been a terrible shape for cycling - very long, bony, and lacking in circulation/skin issues/bone issues. And this has caused many obstacles. During my PhD, I identified how important physical well-being was for athletes in Para Sports, and that it is VIP we look after our bodies. For example, a rotator cuff injury may be career ending for a baseball player, but for someone who is in a wheelchair, this can affect their whole life.
Do you use the same prothesis for every activity?
I have many legs!! One for walking, one for cycling, and soon one for swimming and fingers crossed - one for running :) I have also kept some of my baby legs, they are very very cute.
What’s your favourite ride/route?
I have a few! So, I love riding to the Dandenongs, as well as riding up in Bright. And then of course the French Alps…
What’s your biggest achievement on the bike?
This would be my two silver medals at the 2018 UCI Road Cycling World Champs. In the ITT and the RR.
How many bikes do you have and which one is your favourite one?
Surprisingly, I only have two! A roadie and a Time Trial. I love them both :) My roadie is an Orbea - best road bike I have ever had. And my TT is a BMC.
What’s your favourite season?
For sure summer, I love being warm. Hence why I spend time in the sauna as well :)
Who is your cycling inspiration?
Margie Noonan - I get to train with Margie sometimes as part of The Hurt Box. Margie is in her 60’s, still smashing it out on the bike, and always making everyone laugh. I want to be like Margie!
Thank you for your time and sharing your story with us!
Hannah's favourite Legenda jersey is https://legendacycling.com/products/womens-cycling-jersey-orange