The Rio Sessions: Alex Lisney

August 24, 2016

As we approach the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we’re more than proud to be official partners of both Australian Teams. Join us over the next few weeks in The Rio Sessions, where we’ll be introducing our fearless Swisse Olympic and Paralympic ambassadors, sharing their stories, dreams and successes.

In session: Alex Lisney

When Sydney-sider Alex Lisney (nee Green) is not cycling around Sydney’s northern beaches, she’s training six days a week for her second Paralympics. She’s definitely one to watch in her favoured event, the 3000m Individual Pursuit, and judging by her recent performance at the recent UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Italy, she’s one of our best hopes for gold.


Her Road to Rio

One of Alex’s earliest memories is when she was in grade two, and she started to realise she was different to her friends; they didn’t have to have plasters put on their legs to strengthen them, or have a limp. However, despite this she didn’t and hasn’t ever let the affects of cerebral palsy dictate her life.

She trained as a ballerina until she was 18, even though her left leg and left arm are shorter than those of her right side. Shortly after that she realised that her disability might qualify her for the Paralympics, so she decided to use the balance and strength she had from ballet to try her hand at rowing.

A natural athlete, within six months she was in the Australian team and competing at the World Championships in Poland. As part of her fierce training regime, she worked on a bicycle, and one day she made it to the velodrome, and didn’t look back. She switched to cycling at the age of 23 and aimed to qualify for London less than two years away – a seemingly impossible feat. She found that she had the leg power and endurance from rowing, which helped her, but it wasn’t until she tried out a specially designed leg brace that she was able to apply power solidly.

Lisney won bronze in the individual pursuit at the 2011UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Italy, and the next year won gold at the same championships, in Los Angeles. She also won the world champion's coveted striped jersey. Since then she has consistently placed at nearly every cycling competition she has entered. And she’s hoping to do the same in Rio.


Why you’ll love her

Ever humble, Alex originally didn’t want to compete as a Paralympian as she didn’t want to take away something from someone more disadvantaged than her. But after finding a category that fitted, she set her sights on representing her country and winning gold. Alex is also a great advocate for people living with her disability. She is in fact the youngest director of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, who aims to help people living with cerebral palsy and their families both with services and research. Not content with being one of Australia’s most promising athletes, she is also finished a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering. But that’s not going to stop her from taking a well-deserved year off after Rio!


Our favourite Alex quotes

On her sport: “There's something about the speed of the velodrome. It sounds different on the velodrome, being on the wooden floor. It's quite simple, there are no brakes, there are no gears, it's just you and that bike and you just go as fast as you can!”/p>

On pain: “Lactic acid is up to your eyeballs, you can't breathe, everything's tight and hot, your legs feel like they're just dragging behind the bike, they're not even pedaling. You can't think. I can't see, I close one eye at the end of the race; it's like my body's shutting down. I hope to feel that in Brazil. If you don't feel that bad, you haven't gone hard enough.”


You’ll find Alex battling it out in the velodrome in Rio where she will compete for gold in in the women’s cycling against some of the world’s best. 

Check out Alex's ambassador page.