Leonora girl’s rise from red dirt to Beijing Winter Olympics now complete

Neale HarveyKalgoorlie Miner
Ashleigh Werner and Kiara Reddingius from Australia at the start of the women's two-women bobsleigh World Cup race in Igls, Austria, in November.
Camera IconAshleigh Werner and Kiara Reddingius from Australia at the start of the women's two-women bobsleigh World Cup race in Igls, Austria, in November. Credit: Lisa Leutner/AP

Kiara Reddingius’ stunning rise from Leonora sprinter to Winter Olympian was completed on Sunday with her selection in the Australian bobsleigh team for next month’s program in Beijing.

The 30-year-old will make her Olympic debut alongside teammate Bree Walker in the two-woman event.

Walker, 29, will also tackle the Monobob in its Olympic debut.

They booked their spots for Beijing after a pair of top-two finishes in World Cup races, both in Winterberg, Germany during the past two months.

A classic late bloomer, Reddingius was 21 years old when she took up athletics in the northern Goldfields and 29 before she moved into winter sports.

Track and field had been her first passion and required her to take on a variety of jobs to help fund university studies in Perth.

It included roles in the region’s booming mining industry on a 13 days on/one-off roster and riding track work for local thoroughbred trainers.

Leonora Women’s Open 120m Sprit Runner-up Kiara Reddingius and Winner Lora Storey.
Picture: Tori O’Connor
Camera Icon2019 Leonora Golden Gift women’s open 120m runner-up Kiara Reddingius and winner Lora Storey. Credit: Tori O'Connor/Kalgoorlie Miner

A star heptathlete, Reddingius just missed selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

But injuries and the onset of COVID-19 prompted Reddingius to rethink her sporting ambitions — paving the way for an eventual move into winter sports.

Bobsleigh debuted at the Winter Olympics in 1924 and competitors can reach speeds of up to 130km/h as they negotiate steep gradients and banked corners.

For Reddingius, she hopes her Olympic journey can inspire other young Australians.

“”I was very confident in my ability to learn fast and change fast and adapt,” she said.

“And I was quite confident in the position I had got my body in for the last eight years in athletics would put me in good stead.

“There was so much to learn, but I like learning and the bobsleigh community is so supportive — so many people around the world were willing to help me because they saw that I had potential.

“Bree and I do all that we can, at any time, to execute our training and rest and everything we can control to the best of our abilities. We’ve got high expectations of ourselves, but we also know that every moment we’re giving it our best.

“”I hope that our story and how we’ve adapted can help show young Australians they don’t need to put limits on what they think they can achieve.

“It doesn’t matter what your background is, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done previously.

“You don’t even have to believe that you can do it, you just have to give things a try. Not just in sport either — if it’s in music, education, anything you want to do — putting limits on yourself is going to hinder what you can truly achieve.”

The two-woman bobsleigh will be contested on February 18-19 at the Yanqing Sliding Centre, which includes a world-first 360-degree turn, with the Monobob taking place on February 13-14.

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