Featured / Paracanoe / Jul 27, 2016

When Colin Sieders received the news in a hotel foyer that he had made the Australian Paralympics team he was stunned but ecstatic.

It was the eve of the Paracanoe World Championships, where Sieders was expecting he’d be putting everything on the line to try and make the Australian team for Rio.

But after officials discovered an admin error from the 2015 World Championships, 34-year-old Sieders suddenly found himself in the team.

With the pressure off, he found it hard to focus at the World Championships.

“It definitely made me more relaxed, and I didn’t race as well as we had prepared and expected,” Sieders said.

Sieders had already had more than a taste of the fast life, having been a very successful V8 supercar driver.

He also knows what it takes to overcome a challenge, having clung onto life after a near-fatal car crash at the age of 15 that left him unable to walk again.

Having made the Paralympic team, Sieders then turned his mind to what it would take to make the podium in the KL1 event.

And it led to him having to make yet another tough decision.

“After being home for a week I had a chat to my wife, Erin, and we decided that we needed to put everything into this opportunity as it could be my only chance at a Paralympics,” he said.

“So I called head coach Andrea King and team manager Christine Bain, and we decided that I needed to move to the Gold Coast to train with the rest of the Aussie team.

“Everyone is very supportive, Erin is amazing looking after the three kids back home.”

While Sieders still yearns for the smell of petrol fumes and the roar of the V8 engines, he will never forget the day his personal coach suggested he come down to a kayak training session.

And he’s especially thrilled that coach, Sam Norton, will be among his cheer squad in Rio.

“This is by far the biggest thing that has happened to me in my sporting career and is a dream come true,” Sieders said.

“Car racing will always be my sporting love, and racing a V8 Supercar at Bathurst was such an amazing thing for me to do after everything I went through after my car accident in 1997.

“But mum and dad are coming to Rio, as well as Sam, who got me into kayaking and introduced me to Andrea, so its going to be great to have him there to finish the journey we started together back in August 2012.”

While Sieders talks about “finishing” the journey in Rio, one suspects it will not be the last we will hear of one of Australia’s most driven, dedicated and hard-working athletes.