Recently awarded Order of Australia (OAM) "for service to sport as a gold medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games", Stephanie Morton can vividly recall standing atop the podium in London with tandem 1km time trial teammate Felicity Johnson.
"Winning gold in London on the tandem with 'Flick' was such a massive milestone and I still remember the moment like it was yesterday," Morton told Cyclingnews from her Australian Institute of Sport training base in Adelaide. "Even now I get goose bumps when I think of standing on top of the podium, watching the Australian flag rise in sync with the playing of our national anthem. It was crazy."
Morton, the team's pilot, along with 40-year-old Paralympian Johnson, were joined on Australia Day by fellow Australian gold medal athletes also awarded the prestigious award, including cyclists Carol Cooke (T2 individual time trial), pilot Scott McPhee and his tandem 4km individual pursuit teammate Kieran Modra AM, as well as David Nicholas who captured gold in the C3 individual time trial and bronze in the C3 individual road race, while Susan Powell won gold in the C4 3km individual pursuit and silver in the C4 individual time trial.
"London was very special to me, as I had my mom, dad, uncle and little brother all fly over from Australia to watch," said Morton. "There was lot of pressure going into the Games as world record holders and world champions, so to finally look up and see that 'No.1' next to our names was just absolutely awesome and for Flick as well, as the whole reason I was there was to help her realise her dream of going to London and going to the Paralympics and winning gold.
"I was just stoked how everything worked out for us and I still am."
Morton, who took the 2013 national titles in the keirin, individual sprint, and team sprint (with Rikki Belder), scored an upset win at the 2014 Australian track cycling championships by beating Olympic sprint gold medallist and multi-time world champion Anna Meares in the keirin for the first time.
Meares, tweeted a photo of a cap that she had signed for Morton five years before, on which she had prophetically scribed: "Steph, maybe one day you'll beat me."
Now Morton has her sights clearly set on making the Australian national team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July. This year only the 500m time trial and sprint race will be featured for the women.
"I got the OAM for participating in the Paralympics, and that's pretty cool" said the 23-year-old South Australia native. "It was icing on the cake as Flick and I had done so much work on the tandem, and winning two world championships and London was a nice way to end my time with the Paralympians. Now it's on to the next chapter.
"I am currently enjoying my second year with the AIS, so as long as I am going faster, getting stronger and reaching my own personal goals then I am stoked. Come July, the great Anna Meares will be in Glasgow, as will the British and Kiwis, so it's going be game on and I plan on being right in the thick of it."
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