Why did you choose cycling?
I actually started with adaptive skiing, but it didn’t turn out to be my sport. Nevertheless, I still wanted to take part in sport at the highest level and discovered the Paralympic Games. So I literally went through the list of sports for the summer and winter Paralympic Games and cycling immediately caught my eye. The national team coach also spotted my potential straightaway and I therefore swapped skiing for cycling. While I was able to cope with my disability quite well in my day-to-day life, it only really became clear on the bike at the Track Cycling World Championships in 2012 how extreme it actually was. It’s quite intense to experience what damage was caused by a brain hemorrhage after birth, which left me with partial spasticity and paralysis on my left-hand side. I was wobbling on my bike and stood on the podium after the 500 m time trial with a completely bent and cramped body because I had pushed myself to the limit. Nevertheless, I never really felt disabled!
What does speed mean to you?
Put simply, speed means freedom! As I can no longer ride longer distances due to an injury, sprinting fast over 500 meters is now my main focus.
Tell us something about teamwork and motivation
I am supported by a team of professional experts from the NOC NSF (Dutch Olympic Committee Dutch Sports Federation) and the KNWU (Royal Dutch Cycling Federation), as well as sponsors, and support staff. I also have my own foundation called ‘Kopgroep Alyda’. This foundation not only supports me in my career, goals, and dreams, but also spreads the message that everyone can take part in sport in whatever way possible. From beginner's level to top-class competitions! I hope to inspire and motivate others with my life story and by showing them that it is possible to do sport with a disability. Life is fragile, but you can always choose to make the most of it. I would say, make sure you all get moving as life is far too beautiful to sit still!
What is your greatest success that means the most to you?
In terms of medals, the gold medal for the 500 m time trial at the 2016 World Championships in Rio springs immediately to mind! In addition, the greatest success is the victory over myself. The development process that you go through in the sport as well as in life, and developing into a successful Paralympian, has resulted in much more than a medal. The question is: who am I and what can I do? You can always do more than you think. I always say that if you’re unable to work your way around it, just go straight through!