An emotional Kate Horan was thrilled to share the news of her New Year's Honour with mother Val before she passed away earlier this month.

The Paralympic cycling star became a Member of the NZ Order of Merit today, alongside Rio team-mates Liam Malone, Anna Grimaldi (both athletics) and Nikita Howarth (swimming).

Horan, a below-the-knee amputee, describes the achievement as "bittersweet", after she narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing fourth in her favoured 3000m pursuit.

Wellington's Para-cyclist Kate Horan sets a new world record in the C4 200m Flying Lap at Cambridge. Photo/Photosport
Wellington's Para-cyclist Kate Horan sets a new world record in the C4 200m Flying Lap at Cambridge. Photo/Photosport

"For me, getting this award meant a lot, because I didn't come home with a medal and I'm still suffering that disappointment," she told Radio Sport.

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"Also, my mother passed away three weeks ago and I got to tell her about this award. She won't be here when I receive it, but to know that she was just over the moon means a lot.

"They [her parents] were just so delighted and so proud. They have given up a lot in supporting me - they weren't able to make it to Rio, but they were back here, looking after my little fellow."

Traditionally, New Year's Honours are held under strict embargo, with recipients sworn to secrecy until the official announcement. Under the circumstances, Horan can surely be excused her indiscretion.

"I'm feeling so, so proud that mum was able to experience the joy, when I called to tell her that I might be receiving this award," she said.

Horan (41) set a Paralympic record of 4m 02.608s in qualifying for the 3000m pursuit, but her time was later bettered by American Shawn Morelli and Australia Susan Powell, leaving her in a bronze-medal ride-off with American Megan Fisher.

The mother of three led that race for most of the journey, but could not hold off Fisher's strong finish to claim the medal.

Horan had previously won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics as a 200m sprinter on the athletics track, but transitioned to the bike for Rio.

Wellington's Para-cyclist Kate Horan sets a new world record in the C4 200m Flying Lap at Cambridge. Photo/Photosport
Wellington's Para-cyclist Kate Horan sets a new world record in the C4 200m Flying Lap at Cambridge. Photo/Photosport

"To be honest, I was really, really shocked and then just delighted," she said, of her New Years Honour. "It's a huge honour, so when I got the letter, I was just stoked.

"I've been competing now since 2003, so it's an award for all those years of training.
"When you're training day in and day out, you're not thinking about awards, you're thinking about medals. At the end of the day, to get an award like this is completely out of the blue.

"I think it's fantastic that para-athletes are receiving these awards. We train just as hard and give up as much of our lives as able-bodied athletes, so it is lovely to recognised alongside able-bodied athletes."