Wanaka’s loss is Warren Wilson’s gain
Talented Wanaka cross country mountain biker Paul Wright is already leading the way for his new United States varsity cycle team, the Warren Wilson Owls.
One week into starting his year at Warren Wilson College, he’d won a first and second place in collegiate competition.
It is thought Wright is just the second Mount Aspiring College student to take up a US sports scholarship. Rower Sasha Bruce won a spot at the University of Oregon in 2011.
Warren Wilson is among the 10 best collegiate mountain bike schools in the US. The head coach is Matthew Williams.
‘‘I was aware of some other athletes going overseas and doing sports while studying so I figured I’ll give it a crack. I googled good mountain bike universities in America and sent them a CV. They responded and here I am.
‘‘There were two I was interested in but this coach at Warren Wilson was really really keen.
‘‘Yes, it is cool and I would recommend it as there are so many races and everything is covered,’’ Wright said.
The New Zealand under-19 mountainbike representative honed his skills on Central Otago tracks and roads and has competed on the junior world cup circuit for the last two years.
‘‘The road and mountain bike riding is very good in the area. I have chosen chemistry and economics classes and hope to pursue a career in one of the two but am still undecided.
‘‘Hopefully I can become a full time professional athlete, also possibly Olympics and Commonwealth Games,’’ Wright said.
He comes home to Wanaka for a holiday in December.
‘‘I’ll try to get to as many [club] road races as possible around Christmas time. I am still not sure if I will race in the NZ cup series, nationals and Oceanias yet.
‘‘It all depends if [those mountainbike races are] mandatory to be selected for worlds,’’ he said.
Paul Wright, 18, at home in Hawea Flat.