A coach, on and off the track

Donna Rae-Szalinski has an OAM for her service to cycling. (supplied)

By Justin Flynn

Wallington’s Donna Rae-Szalinski said she was “very humbled” to receive a medal of the Order of Australia for her service to cycling this week.

“I know it’s not something that is given out lightly,” she said.

Donna carved out an impressive international cycling career that began in the late 1980s and was inducted into the Cycling Victoria Hall of Fame in 2018.

“I started cycling because I had been a runner and got stress fractures in my feet after the Gold Coast marathon,” she said.

“I started riding a bike and never stopped.”

Donna came third in the road race at the national championships and finished 17th in the Women’s Challenge in America in 1991. She finished 32nd in the women’s Tour de France in 1987.

But it’s as a coach that Donna feels she has done her best work.

She is the founder of Cycle Edge Coaching Consultancy in Belmont and was a former Australian junior cycling team coach.

“I see my role in life as being an enabler,” she said.

“I love being able to help someone reach their goals. That is just so rewarding,

“I was a good cyclist, but I’m a better coach. I started because I wanted to do something in the Geelong community.

“I think I have a sound knowledge of the demands of cycling. The bigger strength, from my point of view, is my ability to make each athlete feel valued and to be able to connect with them as an athlete and as a person.”