Karen Darke

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Karen Darke
Medal record
Representing  Great Britain
Women's road cycling
Paralympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2016 Rio Road time trial H1-3
Silver medal – second place 2012 London Road time trial H1-2
Women's Paratriathlon
ITU Triathlon World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2012 Auckland U TRI 1

Karen Darke, MBE, FRSGS (born 25 June 1971, in Halifax, Yorkshire) is a British paralympic cyclist, paratriathlete, adventurer and author.[1] She competed at the 2012 London Paralympics winning a silver medal in the Women's road time trial H1-2.[2]

Darke is paralysed from the chest down following an accident, aged 21, whilst sea cliff climbing.[2] In 2006, she took part in an expedition which crossed Greenland's ice cap whilst sitting on skis using her arms and poles to cover the 372-mile crossing. She has also climbed Mont Blanc, Matterhorn and El Capitan and hand-cycled, skied and swam the length of Japan. In 2009, she was a bronze medal winner in the Para-Cycling World Cup after which, in 2010, she became a member of the British Para-Cycling team. She has won two silver medals in the women's H2 road race and time trial events at the 2011 Para-Cycling World Cup whick took place in Sydney.[1]

At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, on 5 September 2012, she won a silver medal in the Women's road time trial H1–2 finishing second to Marianna Davis in a time of 33:16.09. In the Women's road race H1-3 competition, on 7 September 2012, Darke finished fourth. After crossing the finishing line holding hands with team mate Rachel Morris, both in a time of 1:43:08, Morris was awarded the bronze medal.[3]

In October 2012, she competed in her first ITU Paratriathlon World Championships. She won the gold medal in her TRI-1 classification.[4]

In 2014 Darke took a silver medal in the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in South Carolina in the H3 time-trial,[5] following it up with a bronze in the H3 road race.[6]

On 14 September 2016 Darke won the gold medal in the Women's time trial H1-3 at the Rio Paralympics in a time of 33:44:93.[7]

Darke was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to sport.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Darke graduated from the University of Leeds in 1992 with a degree in Chemistry and Geological Science. Darke has a doctorate in geology from the University of Aberdeen which she gained in 1996 and an MA from the University of Cumbria in development training and diplomas in performance coaching and traditional Chinese medicine.[1] Her long term partner was the climber Andy Kirkpatrick.

In 2017 she received an honorary degree from Abertay University in Dundee. [9]


She wrote some books which may include:

  • If You Fall (2006)
  • Boundless (2012) (cowritten with Andy Kirkpatrick)


  1. ^ a b c "Karen Darke". paralympics.org.uk. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Halifax-born Karen Darke wins Paralympic Games silver". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Darke misses out on Paralympic medal for holding hands". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 11 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  4. ^ "2012 Barfoot&Thompson World Triathlon Grand Final Auckland : Paratriathlon Female TRI-1 : Results". International Triathlon Union.
  5. ^ "Para-Cycling: Karen Darke & David Stone among medals for GB". BBC. 30 August 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  6. ^ "PPara-Cycling: David Stone & Karen Darke add to GB medal tally". BBC. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Women's Time Trial H1-2-3 – Standings". rio2016.com. 14 September 2016. Archived from the original on 22 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  8. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N17.
  9. ^ https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1057983/paralympic-cyclist-darke-to-receive-honorary-degree-from-abertay-university-in-dundee