I’M an international trike racer. When I compete, I race against two former undercover cops in their 50s; an east German, Jana, whose first language may have been Russian (and who I have never seen smile); and Marie-Eve, whose thighs are part-human, part-tree trunk, and whose use of words is similarly wooden – exclusively “good job” if she’s beating you or “f**k off” if she’s not. There’s another opponent: ex-army Monica, desert and diesel still running through her veins. There are more of us, but these are my target girls for Tokyo 2020.

The one who is swearing up a desert storm at the pedestrian walking over our race course is Monica, who I proceed to beat in a deadly sprint finish. No-one outrides the Glaswegian daughter of a minister and a doctor – except three other people. BOOM! Not the trike drop you were expecting? Me neither.

How can I ever fit into this bunch of wonder women? Never mind the new DC movie, there are real-life people out there for your spectating pleasure, except the British Paralympic Association never gave Channel 4 the funding to film us and nine other sports in the Paralympics, so you will have to rely on my endorphin-heightened article for an update (Please Channel 4 when it comes to Tokyo 2020 ... let’s do it)!

My rivals are all so ruthlessly badass: some have nerve-ravaging autoimmune disorders, shrapnel scars and incomplete paralysis, others have speeding car impact marks and traumatic brain injuries and yet they still decide to race trikes (which crash a lot) very fast. A little worrying, maybe, but all the best sports are.

All I can boast is a premature birth, which led to my tiny baby brain having a tiny baby bleed. Consequently, my brain and my muscles decided to go through a messy divorce, which is a bit much if you are only an hour old and have no concept of what conscious movement is. As I grew, it got worse, as most things do. Limbs and head refused to work together to do what they needed, which was move without having a screaming argument with each other. That is, until I was man-handled by enough physios, butchered by enough surgeons and imprisoned in enough orthotics and plaster casts for my legs to finally behave a bit like they should do.

This is cerebral palsy, the most common form of childhood disability yet shockingly under-represented in the Paralympics and other international levels. For example, the organisers of the 2017 Athletics World Championships decided there wouldn’t be a single race for women in the most disabled cerebral palsy class, T33, even though athletes had been training for that event. That is like cancelling Usain Bolt’s 100m race because there were only three on the start line. I don’t know about you, but I would still watch the race to see Bolt do his thing and smash the other two. What about Shelby Watson, hey? The Scottish Bolt Babe of the wheelies, I would watch her. How are you meant to encourage people if there are no race opportunities?

Unlike Shelby, I did have a chance to go the paracycling road world championships. I raced this season, without British Cycling’s support and was 26 seconds away from gold in my last road race, my best result. I could only qualify for a place with a gold medal though. I mean, what do we have to do? 

Actually, I am doing what I must do, trying to improve enough so that I can get my funding back and afford to race next season. Contrary to the telly, Shelby and I are not superhuman, like Channel 4 says. With no races or funding, there is little we can do.

The superhumans do exist though and most are the ones with TV time, with the weight of the media behind them, those Paralympians who have been given what they need to show their athletic prowess to the world. Their super power is that they can do something when you cannot.

If they stand with you, your outcome as an athlete may be different. If you tag-team the problem together, them from above and you from below, your combined might may smash through the disability ceiling which divides you.

Sarah Storey. Yes, Dame Sarah Storey aka Britain’s most successful Paralympian. She’ll do. She has more medals than Chris Hoy and is mother to one-and-half kids (she’s had one, one is on the way). She could be a superhero just because of that, except that she also has laser vision that sees all the holes in the sporting system and the decent athletes who fall through them.

Like hastily covered-up potholes on the road, another of her pet hates; she saves people who are victims of the holes. She put on her superhero costume (Lycra and with the Team Storey logo) and said that being me – fourth in the world and yet to get a medal – was enough.

All I had to do was live up to the team Twitter hashtag: “be my best self”. I am not going to beat around the bike here, it saved me.

Sarah has put hard work and passion first, knowing that medals will come later. Many teams or governing bodies wish for a straightforward gold rush and leave those athletes who have a longer, harder, less predictable road to success to go it alone, when what they need most is a team.

Sarah has given me and others a place on the road and the support to keep going, against many odds.

Like characters out of Pixar’s Incredibles, we all look great, like Sarah; capeless superheroes coming to the rescue of women’s road cycling, together.

It’s not just Sarah. Carol Cooke was the first to call bullshit after Rio when I got the boot (she’s one of the former cops, an undercover one). Her name in Australian Paracycling is as associated with gold as Sarah’s is in Britain. She has finished first in as many races as I have had fourth places and more. This is because I race her. She’s been there all along.

I tweeted her two months after I started trike racing. I knew nothing of the sport and nothing about Twitter (it was January 2014, ever the late starter) and mistook a photo of her outsprinting Marie-Eve for her racing David Stone, the British male trike she beat to gold in 2012.

In as much as 140 confused characters could explain, I tried to say she was the reason GB wanted to train me. A bit baffled but kind as ever, she replied that maybe she would meet me one day. Three years later, we were arguing about Vegemite as we sat at breakfast in the Australian Institute of Sport (in Italy, where the base is for all the Aussies who come over to Europe and race). I insisted it must be spread on thickly because Vegemite was a weaker version of Marmite and therefore you needed a lot.

I think she regrets that tweet now.

There are probably many reasons why she offered to spend her time training with me by her side. I am a direct competitor and this will make it more likely that I beat her. When I do, I hope it will all get very Star Wars, with me being Darth Vader and Carol being Obi-Wan: “The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.”

I think gold medallists, as much as they love to win, don’t want their sport to die just because they are so good at it. The fact your sports boast some great athletes should attract people to the challenge, not send them away defeated.

I am not defeated. If you gave up the first year after you didn’t win a medal, still in your 20s, what kind of athlete would you be? For my governing body to give up on me, when I am still improving and still fighting, when my main competitor and their most successful athlete value me as a competitor and presence in the sport, is disappointing.

I think there are a lot of us with cerebral palsy or stubborn, unattractive disabilities who are going through the same thing, losing their funding when their counterparts still have theirs, or not getting any in the first place.

The only way we can combat this is by having a wee cry, eating a lot of pizza and by giving as much of ourselves to our pursuit as we ever have, relying on our communities (thanks to all those who crowdfunded my trike) and the superhumans and wonder women in our corner.

Shelby and I and Gavin and Kayleigh, Lauren and Harris and Jessica – to mention a few amazing athletes in similar positions to me – we have the Scottish and the cerebral palsy in us, the power to grimace and hang on, if slightly depressed and grumpy, tightening our waterproofs against the grizzly weather (unless you can get a gold medal winner to take you to the Australian Training Centre with her).

I am still here, working on my performances – I just won my National Para-cycling TT Championship yesterday – and hoping I can still get funding from UK Sport to race and show what it means to be a passionate, hard-working and successful athlete.