Former V8 Supercar driver Colin Sieders is set to compete in the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Germany later this month having made a remarkable transition from car seat to canoe seat.
Sieders had become somewhat a regular in the Dunlop Series as the first driver to compete with a permanent physical disability, the result of a car accident when he was 15. Another recent accident damaged his hip, ruling him out of the sport for now.
As part of his rehabilitation Sieders was looking for a way to stay in shape, so his trainer suggested kayaking. He then met the coach for the Paralympics team and was invited to train with the squad.
An amazing six months later Sieders has been named in Australia’s squad for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio and this month’s World Championships in Duisburg.
“I started training seriously about six months ago, ended up winning two Australian titles and making the Australian team,” Sieders said. “It’s all become very serious, very quickly.
“Now I’m heading off to the world titles tomorrow – there’s a three-week training camp in Italy at the European Training Centre and then I go to Germany for a week to do the world titles.”
There are three categories in the sport, with Sieders in the division for the most severe disabilities – those who use just their shoulders and arms to paddle.
The Paralympic and World Championship kayak races are 200-metre runs. Sieders has been training seven days a week, with a minimum of seven paddling sessions and three to four gym sessions.
“I’ve only lost one race in Australia, and comparing times against people overseas – hopefully I will be in the top four in the world … As long as I make the finals I’ll be happy.”
Clearly Sieders is a natural athlete and thrives on the competition.
“I guess I’m fairly natural at it – I’d never really kayaked before until last year, so I’ve picked it up quickly and to be competitive, worldwide, is good. I didn’t expect it this quickly.”
For Sieders – who also has a three-year old daughter – being positive is a must.
“It was the same when I had the accident when I was a kid – you look forward, not at the past. I always had the idea, if you have to will to do it, you’ll do it. Focus on a goal.”
Sieders contested most rounds of the Dunlop Series from 2006 to 2008; and competed partially in the years following up until 2011, when he was involved in a second accident.
Sieders’ goal is to combine kayaking with motor racing once he is able to get back behind the wheel.
Younger brother David is contesting the Auto One V8 Utes Australia series, currently sitting second in the Championship points, with the next round part of the Sandown 500.
“The plan is to get back in the driver’s seat – ideally I’d like to do something next year,” Sieders said.
“When I had that second accident and damaged my good hip, to brake in a race car would be difficult, I wouldn’t be able to apply pressure. Maybe something in the Utes though… not a V8 Supercar, unless it had hand controls.”
In the Dunlop Series, Sieders used a hand clutch in his Sieders Racing Team Falcon, which was first built by Ford Performance Racing and driven by Glenn Seton.