Explorer, adventurer, educator, author, speaker, real tennis professional, philanthropist
Kate Leeming is more than just an adventurer, and more than just a cyclist – she’s a passionate advocate for human rights and social justice. Throughout her cycling career, she’s used her expeditions across the world to investigate and shed light on different social and environmental issues, raising money and awareness as she goes. One of her most notable journeys was in 2010, when Kate spent 10 months cycling 22,040km across Africa in a continuous line, in what is believed to be a world first. The main purpose of the project was to explore the causes and effects of extreme poverty. Throughout Kate’s lifetime, her cycling adventures have totalled to be the equivalent of twice around the world at the equator – all promoting amazing causes. Off the bike and onto the tennis court, Kate is also a highly regarded world real tennis champion, winning 5 Australian Open singles titles, 6 doubles titles and has achieved a highest ranking of World No.2 Woman Player. Her achievements, physically, mentally and philanthropically, have endowed her with a compelling and inspiring story of what can be achieved with hard work and perseverance.
‘Thank you for the wonderful address you gave last night. I think we were all inspired and stunned, in equal measure!’ – Professor Helen Wildy, Dean, Faculty of Education, The University of Western Australia
‘It was a privilege to hear your remarkably courageous and inspirational story. It was a lovely surprise to get such a unique and magical insight into Africa.
Feedback from the group was universally exceptional.’ – Tim Steele, Director, AMP Horizons
‘…But it is not just her achievement which is extraordinary, she is a very gifted speaker and has a great talent at homing in on the small detail to get across the enormity of her undertaking. Her tale, the way she tells it, is both funny and moving…’ – Carol Wilson, Managing Director, Performance Coach Training (UK)
‘A few weeks ago, Kate came to Genazzano to speak to the year 8, 11 and 12 girls about her incredible adventure through Africa. She showed us that no matter how big or unusual your dream may be, with the right attitude, you can turn your dream into your reality, just like she did. Many girls left with the motivation to reach for their goals, all thanks to Kate. She is an inspirational woman, and we hope we can follow in her footsteps by reaching for our goals.’ – Lucynda Tomaino, Year 11, Genazzano College
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Kate adapts her presentation to inspire and motivate a wide variety of audiences which to date have included: keynoting for UNESCO in Paris and Australia, speaking to corporate audiences, at various events, schools, to sporting groups and sustainability/environmental organisations. Kate’s stunningly illustrated presentations and expeditions have inspired several others – school students and adults – to create and successfully perform their own challenges and projects.
Within Kate’s story, she can address:
- Exploring to find your passion
- Dealing with adversity
- Creating a vision, organising and planning for a successful mission
- Upholding a positive attitude (“How do we get there?” rather than “What will stop us?”)
- Resilience, adapting to changing situations
- Never giving up
- Risk mitigation
- Being a woman in exploration and adventure
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More about Kate Leeming
As an explorer/adventurer, Kate has cycled a distance of more than twice around the world at the Equator. On August 16th 2010 she became the first person to cycle an unbroken line from Africa’s most westerly to its most easterly point, from Pointe des Almadies, Senegal to Cape Hafun, Puntland, Somalia.
Crossing 22,040 km over ten months, Kate’s Breaking the Cycle in Africa Expedition was not only a physical quest but an odyssey to highlight the development needs and activities of war-torn and poverty-stricken nations. Cycling through twenty countries, Kate aimed to find out what is being done to give a ‘leg up’ rather than a ‘hand out’ – to shine a positive light on the issues, cultures and geography of Africa.
Kate has two previous world firsts under her belt – the Trans-Siberian Cycle Expedition (1993) when she became the first woman to cycle across the new Russia unsupported (13,400km aiding the children of Chernobyl), and the 25,000km Great Australian Cycle Expedition (2004/05) which included the first bicycle crossing of the Canning Stock Route by a woman.
Supported by Australian Geographic, Kate’s latest challenge, Breaking the Cycle South Pole, will include the first bicycle crossing of the Antarctic continent via the South Pole (2019-20).
Preparations so far have included polar training expeditions in Svalbard, Northeast Greenland and Arctic Canada, and in 2018/19, a preparatory expedition on every continent (except Antarctica). These expeditions, that are either in polar or sand conditions, or at altitude, are designed to also be challenging, unique expeditions in their own right. In 2018 Kate completed a journey down the Baja Divide in Mexico, polar training in Iceland, the first ever cycle journey along sands of the ephemeral Finke River in central Australia and has helped to bring light and education to remote Ladakhi villages in the Indian Himalaya. Still to come in 2019 are expeditions in South America (The Andes and the Altiplano) and Namibia (The Skeleton Coast).
Complementing Kate’s expeditions, the Breaking the Cycle: Education programme aims to help prepare our future leaders to make informed decisions to create a better world. Students across the globe can follow her preparatory activities and Antarctic expedition and partake in the Breaking the Cycle: Education experiential learning modules. The goal is to inspire students to lead their schools, communities, countries, and the world in making positive change by utilising Kate’s journeys as a source of innovation and creativity.
In March 2016, The University of Western Australia awarded Kate an Honorary Doctor of Education degree for services to education and community. She is a fellow of the Royal
Geographic Society (UK), a member of The Explorers Club (New York), an Endorsed Supporter of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and a Scout Ambassador. Kate’s Australian and African expeditions were Official Activities for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNESCO).
In 2014, Kae’s documentary ‘Njinga’ won two awards at the Action on Film International Film Festival in Los Angeles – best cinematography and best documentary (sport). ‘Njinga’, Kate’s second book, complements the documentary; her first, Out There and Back, chronicles the Australian expedition.
In between expeditions, Kate works as a real tennis professional. She has won 5 Australian Open singles titles and been ranked as high as world number 2 woman, despite incurring a serious knee injury at the beginning of her career that has required eight operations.