Alistair Donohoe broke out on the Australian Para-cycling scene back in 2013, when he achieved his first competitive medal at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Baeie-Comeau, Canada.
Following this success, Donohoe would go on to join the VIS that same year as an individual scholarship holder, where he has since accumulated an additional 19 medals over the course of his decorated cycling career.
He made his Paralympic debut in 2016 at the Paralympic Games in Rio, where he achieved silver in the C5 4000m Individual Pursuit event and the C5 Men’s Cycling Time Trial. More recently at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, Donohoe achieved silver once again in the C5 4000m Individual Pursuit.
When asked about his proudest achievements as a VIS athlete to date however, Donohoe, cited his two back-to-back gold medals in the C5 UCI Para-Cycling World Championships in 2014 and 2015 Men’s Road Race at just 20 years of age.
“In 2015, I went in as defending champion, so there was a lot of pressure on myself there and it was also just a really, really tough course,” he said.
“Everyone knew how they had to beat me, but I still managed to win and that one…I had just nailed that year and nailed the preparation.”
It was these two victories that Donohoe says were a turning point in his love of cycling.
“That for me was like, hey, I love this sport. I’m doing really well and I’m really proud of myself.”
Integral to his preparation and subsequent success in both championships and more broadly across his cycling career, Donohoe credits the guidance of his VIS support staff. In particular, former VIS Sport Scientist Nick Owen, who now occupies a coaching role at Cycling Australia, and former strength and conditioning coach and current General Manager of the VIS Cycling Program, Dr Harry Brennan.
“It was great to see him achieve those back-to-back wins and knowing that you’ve played a really small part, one in terms of trying to keep him injury free, but also, more robust and more powerful,” said Brennan.
“Al has always proven year in and year out that he’s always had consistency,”
“it’s nice as GM of the [cycling] program to see someone like Al, work their way through the [strength and] power program and to see it in a really strong place at the moment,” said Brennan.
In reflecting affectionately on his time since joining the VIS as a junior athlete nearly 10 years ago, Donohoe said it was not only the professionalism of the support staff and the quality of the facilities that stuck out, but the friendly and hospitable culture of the institute as a whole.
“As soon as you walk in, you’re guaranteed to say hi to someone. It’s the familiarity, and maybe it’s because I’ve been here so long that I feel so comfortable, but I always have.”
“The staff are super friendly, and that makes for a huge part of the experience,” said Donohoe.
As for his role as impending VIS Open Day ambassador, Donohoe said he was humbled to have been invited to undertake the role.
“It’s really special for me that I get to promote the VIS. They’ve supported me so much, now I get to support them.”
“It’s going to be really cool to be able to tell people, hey, this is my second home, come check out how cool it is,” said Donohoe.
Spectators will have the opportunity to meet and greet elite athletes such as Alistair Donohoe, on the VIS’ official Open Day on September 20.
VIS Open Day
After a four-year hiatus, the VIS will open its doors to the general public, showcasing its world-class facilities, athletes and experts.
The practical day will give visitors rare access to the inner workings of one of Australia’s elite sporting institutes and will provide a unique taste of what it takes to be an elite performer with information sessions and interactive activities from our experts, athletes and partners.
The free Open Day will take place between 10.00am -2.00pm on Wednesday 20 September 2023 at the newly refurbished VIS headquarters at Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park.