After an outstanding run at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, 37-year-old South Australian Para-cyclist Darren Hicks proudly brought home gold and silver medals. Combining rigorous trainings and pure hard work, Darren’s dedication has certainly paid off with the numerous international medals he has been reaping in the last couple of years. And despite a hurtful past, Darren proved that anyone can definitely rise above personal struggles by remaining hungry in achieving your goals.
Watch Darren’s story:
Darren came for a quick visit at our NDSP Plan Managers Adelaide head office back in December 2021. During the Q&A session with our team, he gamely shared his stories of challenges and successes:
Q: After the 2019 accident, how did you manage to overcome that situation?
I was in a very dark place after the accident. Every time I read the newspaper or watched the news, the way people spoke about me was very negative. What I had to keep reminding myself was that only I knew what and how things happened that day. For a long time it wasn’t public knowledge that the truck was old, faulty and shouldn’t have been on the road. I had many moments where I contemplated taking things out on myself because unfortunately, I started believing whatever other people were saying about me.
But instead of hurting myself, I managed to put that energy into my training and really pushed myself on the bike. That was the best way I could come up with to turn the hurt I was going through into something positive.
Q: Who are some of the people who have helped you to stay motivated?
In the beginning, I honestly thought Para-sport wasn’t going to be that hard.
I thought to myself, I’ve done cycling all my life, racing BMX and riding mountain bikes. I had assumed that with my background in cycling, this would make my Para-cycling experience easier. Little did I know just how hard it was going to be.
My first coach, Loz Shaw, was the person who changed how I think and helped me to realise what I was capable of. I chose to cycle with a prosthetic leg during my first few races. But after a meeting with Loz, he thought that I could be faster if I rode without it — so he set up a test day where I rode both ways and he was right.
Loz steered me in the right direction. He gave me a training program and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I look back now and see how lucky I was because he pushed me both physically and mentally right from the beginning,
I learnt I had so much more in me than I had ever thought. He has helped shaped the person that I am now for sure.
I don’t shy away from hard work—and I think that’s one of the reasons why I have achieved all the things I have now.
Q: What was going through your head when you were about to cross the finish line at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics?
To be honest, not a lot! I just knew that I had absolutely given everything I had and could be content no matter the result.
Q: Is the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris your next big goal?
Absolutely! I had a short amount of time off after Tokyo, but have now started training hard again. Backed by an amazing team of coaches and support staff through AusCycling, we are definitely already working towards the Paris games.
From the outside, I know it looks like we’re living the dream getting to ride a bike for a living. But what you don’t see is the work that goes behind it every single day. For example, you’re sore every day. But the only way to get stronger is to go out and push yourself even more the next day. It’s such a mentally tough thing to do.
Q: What’s the most memorable win you’ve had so far?
The win that means the most to me is not even my gold from the Paralympics. Back in 2018, I won my first ever World-level race at a Road World Cup round in Belgium. What made it really special, apart from achieving a huge goal, is from that point, I started chatting with some my competitors and quite a few have turned into really great friends. I started the race as an underdog and had won against a guy who everyone thought was unbeatable. My competitors congratulated me after winning and I felt that moment as something extra special.
NDSP Plan Managers is a proud Official Supporter of the Australian Paralympic Team.