Getting to know Darren Hicks
Australian Paralympic Cycling Champion
Wurth Australia knows talent when they see it. South Australian Paralympic cyclist, Darren Hicks resonates strength, passion and determination.
Cycling is a very expensive sport. From the cost of several customised bicycles, to the constant upkeep and travel expenses, we wanted to help Darren achieve his goals without having to worry about the cost of tools and maintenance products. We had the joy of interviewing Darren as he works tirelessly to reach his next goal – the Road and Track World Championships held in Scotland later this year.
When did you first discover Wurth products?
“I vividly remember the Wurth logo on the boxes of fasteners and spray cans scattered around my Dad’s shed and at his work. This was be back in the 90's. My Dad is a pretty particular guy so if he was using it, then it was definitely good stuff!”
How did you get into cycling and what has been your greatest achievement so far?
“I have ridden bikes all my life, some of my earliest and definitely fondest memories are of my brother and I building jumps in the park behind our childhood home in Darwin. After that, I started racing BMX when I was 10 and just never stopped.
After my accident, in which I had my right leg amputated above the knee and broke my C2 Vertebrae, I went through some very dark times. I had spent 29 years of my life being able to do everything a certain way and then in the blink of an eye, all that changed. Due to my injuries from the accident, BMX was no longer an option, but I still loved riding so started again during my rehabilitation.
So although I have won a Gold and Silver Paralympic Medal, multiple World Championships and set a World Record, my greatest achievement is and will always be that I went through hell and came out the other side a better person. I have a life I am very proud of, with clear goals I am focused on and a belief in myself I've never felt before!”
How many hours a week do you train?
“Each week I’m on the bike between 20 to 25 hours, I also train in the gym three times a week generally for around 2 hours each session. I train seven days a week, generally in blocks of 6 to 8 weeks and vary from 1 to 3 sessions a day.”
How will your partnership with Wurth help you with your goals?
“My bikes are very high end, precise pieces of equipment. Partnering with Wurth allows me to have tools and maintenance products that match the high quality level of my bikes. This gives me fantastic peace of mind!”
What is your favourite Wurth product?
“It may sound like an odd choice, given how many items there are in the range, but the simple T-Handle Hex/Allen key is my favourite. It’s something that I use almost every day when I’m working on my bikes.”
What is your biggest challenge?
“Hmmm, to be honest I'm not sure. I'd probably say that my accident and the year after has been my biggest challenge both mentally and physically. Now that I've gotten through that, most challenges don't really compare.”
What advice can you give others who may be struggling at the moment or have been through a traumatic event?
“This is a tough one because everyone's situation is different. I can tell you what I’ve done though and if that helps people in some way, then great!
So during this crazy period of lockdowns and restrictions, what helped me stay positive and focused was looking at what I could still do for training, and tweaking my program to suit.
My primary goal for 2020 was always the Tokyo Paralympics. This event would have taken place at the end of August. So when the postponement was announced, my team and I decided to continue training as if we were still competing this year. This allowed me to continue aiming to reach for my goals and gave me something certain to stay focused on. I feel this played a huge role in helping me stay positive and driven during so much uncertainty.
So my advice in short would be: find a goal or target to focus your time and energy on. The beauty of this is it can be as big or as small as you like (remember to keep it achievable though!!). I like to give myself a time frame for things so it keeps me accountable for my progress, so perhaps set yourself a date you would like to achieve your goal by. Once your target is set, start chipping away!! Just remember that not every day will go perfectly and it’s ok to take a day off if you need it!”
What events are you currently training for?
"Lots! Which is such an awesome feeling! I am finally back to what feels like a normal, pre-pandemic race program. We are only in April and I've already had the Australian Road Championships (I won Gold in the Time Trial and Road Race), the Australian Track Championships (I won Gold in the 3km Individual Pursuit, 15km Scratch Race and the Omnium), and the Oceania Track & Road Championships (where I won Gold in all five of the same events). I am currently in Europe for five races, four World Cup Events (two Road Races and Time Trials) and a single day Road Race. Home in May then off again in July to Paris for a staging camp before heading to Scotland for the Road and Track World Championships."
What was it like to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics?
"Competing at the Paralympics was an absolute dream come true, but at the same time, a little underwhelming. I say this because, whilst it was still "The Paralympics", Covid severely changed the feel of the event because we had no crowd whatsoever. By no means did the pressure drop off or the seriousness of the event change, but the buzz and excitement that comes with the roar of a crowd is unmistakable. And it just wasn't there!!
My results are still something I struggle to comprehend. To go to my first Games and come home with a Gold and a Silver is something I couldn't fathom being able to achieve in my entire career, let alone in one hit and on my first try!"
How did it feel to take home both a Gold and Silver medal from the Paralympics?
"As for how winning felt, in my post race interviews, all I could come up with was that I was relieved. And in some ways, I still feel like that...
As athletes, we put our entire lives on hold to chase these ridiculous lofty goals. And in so many cases, those goals we never achieve! So for me, I just felt relief, relief that all those years of devoting quite literally my entire life to riding a bike well had paid off. Putting so many parts of my life to the side, missing nights out with friends and family, not attending events like weddings or Birthdays because I was away racing or simply couldn't fit them in around training. All those sacrifices meant that I got to Tokyo and was in the best shape of my life, and when I got to that start line, I almost knew I was going to win."
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
“I'm not entirely sure, maybe still racing, providing I am still competitive. Otherwise, I think I will still be involved in Para Cycling but transitioning to more of a mentoring/coaching style role, and also doing more keynote speaking.”