Anne Usher MBE to step down from Alliance board

After joining the Sport and Recreation Alliance board in July 2017, Anne Usher is to step down from her role as Elected Director to pursue a new challenge. Anne will be swapping one epic journey for another as she sets off around the world on two wheels. 

Anne took some time out from the first stage of her journey to reflect on her time at the Alliance: 

I’m writing this blog from a tent deep in the Canadian wilderness. It’s so remote that it’s a two-day bike ride in any direction to reach civilisation. I say bike ride because that’s how I got here - on the back of an off-road tandem, with my husband Simon on the front.  

We started in Jasper National Park and our initial destination is Mexico, some 3,000 miles in total. My goal is to be the first Paralympian to cycle the entire length of the Great (continental) Divide - the longest off-road mountain bike route in the world. 

It’s two years since I raced at the Rio Paralympics and won a gold medal in sprint para canoe. The inevitable question after retiring from professional sport is, “what next?” 

Sport, recreation and volunteering has given me so much over the years. Becoming a director for the Alliance was an opportunity to give something back for the next generation. The Alliance’s strategy “the heart of an active nation” really speaks to my values.  

Since becoming a director I have met and been inspired by the Alliance’s employees and by many of its members. I’ve heard so many fantastic examples of how sport and recreation is changing communities and people's lives for the better. 

I know first-hand from my injury in 2011 how an unexpected event can change everything, taking away your ability to do the activity you love. For this reason, I promised myself that if an opportunity arose in the form of an active challenge, I should never postpone it, because who knows what is around the corner.  

That’s what made me say yes to trying out for para canoe and ultimately got me to Rio. It’s also the attitude that got me back on my bike this last year and to trying out, competing in and even winning the French nationals (with a club team) in my new sport of Ocean Outrigger canoeing earlier this year...  

So, what better challenge for a former sprint kayaker with a wonky leg than an ultra-endurance mountain bike challenge?!

My husband has ambitions to turn West after the Mexican border, taking us first to New Zealand (we will cycle top to bottom) then onto South East Asia before coming home next year. Sadly, this means that I need to leave the Alliance Board.  

We explored the possibility of Skyping in, but in reality, I can’t promise to be anywhere with good internet. I also can’t represent the membership when I’m not getting out and meeting you all. 

I do hope I can get involved again in some way when I get back, but until then please feel free to follow my little adventure at www.viewsfromtheback.com 

Keep inspiring!  

Anne