Rebecca Wardell is a former New Zeland Olympic heptathlete and extreme cyclist who currently works at the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.
Rebecca's career so far has been quite the ride, literally and metaphorically. Her story is one of pursuing her dreams and goals through passion, adventure, perseverance, and re-invention.
Rebecca has always enjoyed sport, and competing in the Olympics was a childhood dream. After leaving school she focused on athletics, but it was only in 2004, having missed out qualifying for 400m hurdles in Athens, that she chose to pick up heptathlon. She rose to the challenge and competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Despite her doctor trying to convince her to retire in 2010 she insisted she wanted to give London 2012 a go, but unfortunately she tore a hamstring and couldn't qualify.
Retiring from athletics at 34, she had to discover a new professional identity when most of her peers were already 10 years into their career. Her work led her to Switzerland to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne where she continued to be connected into the sporting world and picked up road cycling for fun.
It was on one of her road trips with 2 other New Zealand friends that they first started talking about cycling 20,000km home to New Zealand. And so in 2018 that Rebecca quit her job and set off for a trip that would last 385 days across 17 countries. It was a crazy, audacious goal that required courage, resilience, and a "nothing ventured, nothing gained" attitude.
In this interview you will hear Rebecca talk about her "Long Way Home" as she calls it, including:
Why she set off in the first place
What she learned along the way and
How it led her full circle back to Lausanne and her passion for the Olymypic movement.
You can also watch Rebecca's 39 minute documentary of her trip here: