Emily Petricola is an Australian gold-medal winning cyclist living with MS and has just competed at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. For Emily, her ability to manage her MS as an elite athlete and reach her full potential would not be possible without the support from her family, friends, and network.
Emily has a close connection with MS Australia and is a highly respected and valued advocate, helping to raise awareness about MS.
My journey into para-sport began through racing opportunities provided at a state level through AusCycling Victoria. I remember being so nervous attending my first race wondering how I would be received by other para-cyclists who had been around for some time. I needn’t have worried as the community within para-cycling in Victoria was, and to this day remains, super positive and supportive. I remember riding through the race and having people who were racing encouraging and cheering me on. Those early connections have lasted and inspired me as I have continued through my sports career.
Whilst elite-level sport is a serious business with many pressures, it is also fuelled by a sense of community and connection to those around you. Without the support of the people in my team in terms of coach, nutritionist, strength & conditioning, psychologist, neurologist, physio, etc., I would never be able to make it to a start line let alone achieve any level of success in my sport. Living with MS is challenging enough on it’s own, add to it a training load that consistently pushes the boundaries of health and wellbeing, soon enough you see some cracks start to appear. People closest to you are the ones that have to deal with this and help you overcome the unseen obstacles and remind you that you are a human at the end of the day and that you need to listen to your body. Beyond the immediacy of the team working on a physical level to get us prepared to compete, these connections to those closest to us that are what help to ensure we stay the course and give as much as we can of ourselves to our sport.