Para athlete Freya Neale is isolating at her Staveley home ahead of brain surgery later this month – but she’s still planning to complete 200 miles for our Derbados Cycle Challenge 2020.
The inspirational 23-year-old, who became a DIS athlete at the start of September, will be using the Zwift indoor cycling app to complete her miles because she is passionate about supporting our programme that creates future champions in sport and business.
Freya said: “I saw the challenge and I love cycling. I go out on the road with my Uncle John. He got me into cycling. I’ve done 100 miles with him before – so I thought I should do more this time, so I’m going for 200 miles before September 23, which is when I go into hospital ready for my operation.”
Using the Zwift app, Uncle John and Freya’s brother Jacob have joined in from York to keep Freya company on some of her miles and Auntie Jo and sister Lucy have said they’ll get involved too.
Freya said: “My bike is near a window so I can look out and I choose different routes on the Zwift app to keep me motivated indoors.”
Freya has Asperger’s Syndrome and dyspraxia and suffers from an essential tremor, a neurological condition that causes involuntary trembling. The surgery she is undergoing this month is to try and reduce those tremors.
She said: “I have joined DIS because I have tried getting into sports with coaches before, but because of my disabilities no-one has really understood how to help me so they’ve never really pushed me to be the best that I can be.
“To have a whole team working for me at DIS is going to be amazing. At the moment I don’t really know much about what to eat, how best to train and how to avoid injury.”
Freya takes part in various track and field events and is still deciding what her specialism will be. “I want to be the best I can be – I just don’t know what at yet. I am excited to start training with DIS properly after my surgery. I’ve been talking to Head of Athlete Development Laura Wake to start planning what I can do once I can get out of my house.”
The freedom of cycling is what Freya says she loves most: “You can go wherever you like and you get to see nature and things you’d never see from inside a car and you appreciate them more. I love that cycling is something that people of all ages and abilities can do. It’s a healthy thing to do and that feeling when you have completed a ride is amazing. You can cycle with friends or family or by yourself.
“On Zwift there are people from all over the world that you can meet and talk to. I also find that when you go outside on a cycle ride, or if you go to watch the Tour de Yorkshire, which we do because I’m from Yorkshire, people always want to talk. It’s a sport that really brings people together.”
If you can’t do the Derbados Cycling Challenge yourself, why not support Freya in her fantastic effort? She has her own fundraising page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/derbados-derbyshire-institute-of-sport
Chloe Maudsley of DIS said: “All of us at DIS are overwhelmed and inspired by Freya who has committed to cycling 200 miles before her brain surgery. She’s only just joined us at DIS but already we are so proud of her drive and determination to succeed.
“As a result of Covid-19, we have had to introduce a charge to all the athletes that access our support. The financial burden of sport can be a barrier to many aspiring athletes and so we want to raise funds to reduce the costs that we are having to ask of our athletes.
“We receive no government funding and so we are working hard to generate funds in a variety of ways so that our athletes can be supported to reach their full potential.
“Please help us to continue to provide support to athletes, like Freya, who have a dream and just need to be given the opportunity to achieve it.”
If Freya’s story has inspired you to get involved, her message to you is: “It would be good for people to have a go if they can. It can be challenging but the feeling of achievement afterwards is really good and you are fundraising to help other people too.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an information pack and to sign up to take part. The challenge is to cycle 10, 20, 50 or 200 miles before September 28.