IT MAY seem a long way off, but for Kaye Hannan the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics are “next week”.
The Hawkesbury equestrian rider narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Australian team at the London Games and is wasting no time in her preparation for a Games debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“I’d like to think that I will make it, but I think it will be fairly positive,” Hannan said.
“I’m training fairly heavily at the moment because in the next year or two there will be four qualifying events for the World Equestrian Games in France in 2014, so everything is focused towards that and going to Rio in 2016.
“It’s a pretty exciting time. People say ‘London’s just finished though’ but as far as we’re concerned Rio is next week. I think about it every day.”
Hannan has a degenerative spinal condition, which has required several bouts of surgery over the years and while painful, doesn’t hold her back from her equestrian pursuits.
She said the first step in making the Australian team for Rio de Janeiro is to be selected in one of Australia’s training squads – which she is not far off.
“You need to be on one of the squads to go to the Olympics and I’m not on one yet,’’ she said. ‘‘There will be an announcement in January and hopefully I’ll be on one by then.
“I need to be on a squad to get to that next level. They do a lot with you and let you know you can do it. They go through the psychological things.
“Once I’m on a squad it will open a lot of doors. People will be looking at you on a more serious basis as well.
“I’m trying to get fitter with a bit of swimming and walking – things that aren’t too detrimental to my body, but are raising my fitness levels a bit.”
Hannan said missing out on the 2016 Olympics “wasn’t an option” and in her mind she’s already on her way to the Games. Her disability affected her movement in many ways, but when she’s on her horse, Chubby, she’s “free”.
“I’ve lost 35 per cent of power down my left side so it requires a lot of effort from my body and I have to come up with different ways to instruct the horse,” Hannan said.
“It gives me the freedom that I don’t have. I can’t run anymore and if I swim I do it with a snorkel. For me it’s just a freedom issue.”