The GIO Oz Day 10K is an important event for those looking to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. For Victoria Simpson, it's exposure to a higher level of competition.
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The 14-year-old from Parkes returned to The Rocks for just her second time to compete in the country's fastest street circuit wheelchair race, held every year on Australia Day.
She too is chasing a Paralympic dream, but it'll be Paris in 2024.
Thirty-three Australian and international wheelchair athletes hit the road at exhilarating speeds on January 26, racing their way along Hickson Road and George Street in the open and junior (under 18s) sections.
It's the competition's 31st year and had drawn competitors from Brazil, Japan, Mauritius, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia.
Simpson - who on the same day was named Parkes' Junior Sportsperson of the Year - placed one better than her silver maiden performance in 2019, taking out this year's overall junior and junior female titles.
She completed the three by 3.3 kilometre loops through The Rocks and Barangaroo in 39 minutes, but it wasn't as fast as last year - done in 37 minutes, the junior record held by Simpson.
A Cory Crombie placed second in 31 minutes but because Simpson was closer to her record than Cory was to his, she won the juniors.
"It is challenging and hard work but I enjoy it," Simpson said.
"I like all distances, I have no favourite, I'm different on both (road and track).
"I love being with my friends and winning with my friends."
Simpson used the tarred path along Renshaw McGirr Way as her training ground for its gradient climb.
"She trained [for the 10km] a few times during the holidays," mum Deanne said.
"With all the other sports she does, she was still keeping up with her fitness."
Deanne said it was upon recommendation from people like Wheelchair Sports NSW patron and Paralympics Hall of Fame legend, Louise Sauvage, and Paralympian Angie Ballard for Simpson to compete in the GIO Oz Day 10K.
"We've known about it for years but we always went water skiing," she said.
"But as she's gotten better and had more drive, we decided to compete.
"We want to give her as many opportunities as we can."
Sauvage is a coach to many of the competitors who took part in the 10K.
She said the event gives aspiring athletes the chance to test their muscle and rub shoulders with some of best road-racing wheelchair athletes in the world.
"GIO Oz Day 10K definitely appeals to all levels of athletes from juniors striving to compete and first-timers right up to title defenders, those looking to qualify for Tokyo and those who've raced for many years and are now in the Masters' category," she said.
The 10km race concluded a week-long of track events, some of them novelty, for Simpson.
The now Year 9 Red Bend Catholic College student headed to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra and competed in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m.
She took part in some fun events in Blacktown, such as novelty races and relays, and won the handicap event.
"I want to do the last man standing next year," Simpson said of the endurance race.
Sauvage and Ballard also encouraged and invited Simpson to compete in the Canberra Classic, an open track competition at the AIS on February 13.
Many of these athletes are also using this event to qualify for the Olympics.
Simpson will also be heading to Sydney this weekend after being offered a scholarship with the NSW Institute of Sport.
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