Nine months after competing at the 2015 Paracanoe World Championships, Australia’s Colin Sieders has been told he has qualified for this year’s Rio Paralympics.
The shock news was delivered to 34-year-old Sieders by Australian team officials at a training camp in Duisburg overnight.
“I was completely unaware this might happen,” an elated Sieders said.
“I was sitting in my room, and was asked to come down to the foyer for a meeting. When I got there the whole team was there, and they told me congratulations, you’re going to the Paralympics!”
Sieders, who lives in Yarramundi in NSW, thought he had just missed out on earning direct qualification when he finished ninth in the KL1 K1 200 race at last year’s World Championships.
It was heartbreaking at the time, missing out by just one place, but Sieders turned his mind to trying to qualify at this month’s World Championships in Duisburg.
But an administrative error meant Ukraine had wrongly been awarded a quota spot that should have gone to Australia.
Sieders, who made his name in Australian sport as a V8 Supercar driver, said it wasn’t the way he expected to get to the Paralympics.
“It would have been nice to learn you have qualified straight after a race,” he said.
“But it is still just as exciting. It was announced with all the team around, so it’s still pretty special.”
Sieders joins Curtis McGrath, Amanda Reynolds and Susan Seipel as confirmed qualifiers for the Paralympics, while Dylan Littlehales and Jocelyn Neumueller will be hoping to earn their tickets in Duisburg this month.
Sieders is already in the sporting record books as Australia’s first disabled V8 Supercar driver, but believes competing in Rio will be an even bigger thrill than racing around Bathurst at 294kph.
“I’m sure I’ll get the same buzz, the same adrenalin rush,” Sieders said.
“There’s still that same rush at the end of the race. Going to Rio is going to be massive. It will be mind-blowing.”
He praised Australian Paracanoe coach, Andrea King, for helping him reach his dream.
“Four years ago it all started, before then I’d never tried a Paralympic sport,” he said.
“Andrea has put together a world-class team. It’s amazing what she’s done, and I’m so proud that I was one of the first athletes that joined her team.”
Sieders also said he had tremendous unwavering support from his wife, Erin, 6-year-old daughter, Rosie, and 15-month-old twins, Violet and Phoenix.
“Just by chance Rosie’s school is having a mini-Olympics to help raise money for the Olympics and the Paralympics this Friday,” Sieders laughed.
“Now Rosie can tell everyone her dad is going to the Paralympics. It’s the best news.”