In this report, we share the story of Toni Mould, an inspirational female Para-cyclist
When/how did you get into paracycling?
I always had the desire to participate in sport but never had the chance to do so because I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t any competitive sporting opportunities for people with disabilities. I did horse riding for many years but I couldn’t do any competitive riding. At university I got involved in Ballroom and Latin dancing and did a few competitons but I stopped in 2008. In 2013 after many years of a friend nagging me to get involved in Para-cycling I finally listened. My idea was to just join the local league, get fit, and socialise – never thinking it would lead me where it has! Honestly I thought at age 29 I was too old to get into competitive cycling as all the athletes I knew usually retire at that age.
I started off with an 10 year old rusted 24kg tricycle, which was soon renamed as The Anchor because it weighed so much. As I improved the organisers at the league suggested I get a lighter and a more up to date trike. It took a year to eighteen months before we could raise enough money and get the right connections for me to get a new trike.
Toni riding her Giant Bicycles Para-trike
What are some of your struggles?
HEHE… The list feels like it never ends. Firstly, I have a disability called Cerebral Palsy which severely affects my movements, balance and speech. So my daily life is a challenge from the moment I try to get out of bed! Secondly, I currently live in a flat by myself so I need to manage my daily tasks by myself – which sometimes feels like a full time job on its own due to the length of time and effort each task takes. I also run a Non-Profit organisation called Bridging Abilities so I need to do my five or so hours of work per day. Due to the amount of energy and effort I used in my daily life, I also have chronic fatigue. So on top of all of this I’m trying to be a cyclist.
I have several challenges with regards to cycling. Firstly, I cant go out and train by myself due to the fact that I cant even get on my trike by myself. So most of my training is done on the indoor trainer which is not the same as being out on the road. Due to limited finances I do not have a proper coach, don’t even attend gym (also because I cant drive a car to get to gym), sometimes cant afford supplements or appropriate food for training (I have to eat more because of my higher energy expenditure due to my body movements).
What are some of your highlights?
I think the whole journey has been a highlight. I still cant believe I’m cycling at this level. Been on the bike is such a ‘freeing feeling’ because I can move easily and without most of the limitations I have when I am not on the bike. I have had the amazing opportunity to wear the SA colours twice now and its an amazing feeling to ride in those clothes.
Toni proudly wearing her South Africa national kit
What is in the future for you?
I really don’t know but cant wait to see! This year I’m hoping to go to the UCI World Cups in Europe in May or July and then there’s awesome opportunity of the World Champs being in SA at the end of August. But there’s still many obstacles that have to be overcome. If I go overseas I need to take someone with me to help me and that raises the costs to about R140,000 just for the two World Cups in May!! Currently I have no sponsors for 2017 so I am trying to raise funds through an online campaign - CLICK HERE - but it’s a very slow process. I really want to get the chance to compete overseas and improve my cycling skills because in SA, and possibly in Africa, I am the only woman on a trike so I have no one to compete against.