Emma McQuaid: Back on Track


For me, quad racing is like pure adrenaline. It’s absolutely awesome. The adrenaline of going over
jumps every time for me is like– it’s unreal. I was the Ulster and Irish champion for three or four years. My best finish in the British Championship was third. He was one of the best in Europe. I don’t think I ever managed to beat him. Unless his quad bike broke down. He was always like everyone’s idol. So that was pretty cool, as well. Well we raced together for probably five or six years before we actually started going out. We had common interests, we both did about [incomprehensible] for the racing. We did it and all was good. Me and David always had like a saying before we got on the quad. It’s maybe not a good saying, but we always used to say, “Are you prepared to the end?” And he’d be
like, “I’m prepared.” And that meant, “I’m prepared to leave in an ambulance.” I think the days that you weren’t prepared to fall off was the days that you didn’t ride well. If there’s a chance to pass, you’re either going to take it and win or back out and be second. So you always have to be on the edge. We were racing on the Saturday for the Ulster Championship And David actually got a bad start, which was very rare. Got blocked in on the first corner. Was sort of blast away and trying to move up through the field. And I knew he was behind me, so I was kind of waiting for him, just to let him pass. The next–the next thing I see is a red flag go up and look behind and David wasn’t there so I knew. I was like, “Something’s going wrong here.” Landed just into a square-edge bump which sent the quad end-over-end. And the quad catapulted him over
and he landed on his back. And it just dislocated his vertabrae. All these bad thoughts come through your head. You know, “What am I going to do?” “What was life?”
“What about Emma?” “Are we going to be able to have kids?”
“Am I going to be able to go to work?” I was crushed inside. Honestly. But I tried not to show to David. I just tried to be as strong as I could for him. She hid her own feelings and was just like, “All right. This happened. Let’s get on with it.” I kind of was quite tough because like a lot of people in David’s situation kind of give up. It may or may not have been the right approach, but I was like, “All right. You’ll be grand. We’ll just deal with it.” And we did. So yeah, it was just tough love. The first eighteen months was really hard. There’s a lot of things you don’t think about until it’s like, “Oh wait, he can’t do that.” So you had to get cars that adjusted. House adjusted. It was really, really hard for both of us and all our family, but you just have to–you have to get on with it. Once he had his accident, I tried to race the following year and I just hated it. It was really hard. I hated him not being on the track. He definitely missed that. I felt glad, in a sense that I didn’t want her to get hurt. And in another sense I didn’t like it because I didn’t want her to change her lifestyle to do anything different. She sort of backed off then from the racing and she needed another thing to do because so much time in our lives were training, getting the bikes ready… Myself and David were actually in California. David was getting a rehab. I was just in a globo gym doing back squats and I looked in on these people just doing like butterfly chest-to-bars and I was like, “Woah.” I couldn’t even lift the weights. I think it was like power cleans or something. I came back the next morning and it was burpees and running and I was like, “Ooh, I can do this!” She was so excited about it and she’s always
been so competitive. Basically that was me. I was hooked. She was going to find another sport and I was glad that she did find CrossFit. I think I just buried myself in CrossFit. If I race the quad, it’s for me and for David. But CrossFit’s just for me. Through the accident, through CrossFit, she’s a stronger person. Like even getting off airplanes and Emma just literally threw me over her shoulder and lashed me into the seat and away we go. There’s been loads of times we’ve went to like different hotels or different racetracks and David like can’t– you know, there’s no access. So like being stronger definitely helps. I can just lift him and we’ll get to wherever we need to go. You see there’s a few men who are like, “I’ll give you a hand.” And I’m like, “It’s okay.” “I’ve got this.” It is good help to be stronger. I competed at Meridian Regionals for the first time this year with Emma. She’s a strong athlete. She’s quiet.
She seems levelheaded. But when she gets out there she goes for it and she does what she knows she can do. It takes a lot to just worry about yourself. So competing and getting things done but having to worry about something else and someone else that you care about that much makes—especially the mental game must be right up there. So it’s very impressive. Once I said to David, “I’m going to ride the quad again.” He was like, “Really?” And I just took it as like going out practicing and having a wee bit of fun, and then we were like, “Let’s try a race.” And I’ve probably had the best like three months racing in my whole quad racing career. Things that really help with the quad bike is grip strength, massive core strength, and your–your lower body. And you need quite a lot of leg strength because you grip with your legs quite a lot and obviously your legs act as suspension as well. That’s probably one of the things I was weak at. I think that’s why I’ve gotten a lot better. Because my legs got stronger, my core got stronger. And probably from doing all the bar work, my grips got a lot stronger so… Everybody says I’m such a strong person and it’s through Emma doing that that I am. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be who I am now. I think things happen for a reason and if it wasn’t for that happening she wouldn’t have found CrossFit. I think one day Emma will be at the CrossFit Games because she 300% deserves it. She’s been unlucky some other years and she probably should have been there two years ago, but yeah, 100%. 2018. She really wants to make it to the CrossFit Games and we’ll do everything we can–I will do and Emma will do everything we can to try and make that happen. Now that I’ve had the break, I’ve just been like, “Yeah, if it’s going to happen to me, let it happen.” If it does, it does. I’m ready. And I think that’s making me a better person–a better athlete because it’s like I’m not afraid. You just go into the race or go into the CrossFit competition and you’re like, “Well if I lose, I lose. That’s all that’s going to happen.”

13 Replies to “Emma McQuaid: Back on Track”

  1. Please Check Out My Latest Fitness Vlog
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  2. Unbelievable athlete, and clearly a very very nice girl and good human. I would love to see her make the games, she is entirely capable!

  3. I went to school with David. Genuinely ome of the nicest guys you could meet. Rooting for her in the games.

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