Olympic ex­pe­ri­ence on the bike

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News - Lau­rilee McMichael

Sam­mie Max­well may have de­stroyed her road bike at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, but the Tauhara Col­lege 16 year old says de­spite hit­ting bar­ri­ers at a speed of 46.8km/hr in her last race, the whole ex­pe­ri­ence was “awe­some”.

Sam­mie, 16, fin­ished eighth over­all out of 20 in her women’s cy­cling field at the Youth Olympics ear­lier this month and says she is “stoked” with how she per­formed. It was her first big in­ter­na­tional out­ing and she was the youngest com­peti­tor in her di­vi­sion with some of the other rid­ers up to two years older.

“It was just an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Meet­ing all the other ath­letes it’s so hum­bling just to see how hard ev­ery­one has worked to get there and the fact that you are fit­ting in with all these peo­ple is such an amaz­ing feel­ing.”

Sam­mie was one of two young women (the other fe­male moun­tain biker was Phoebe Young of Wanaka) and two males who went with the New Zealand com­bined cy­cling team to Buenos Aires. Although Sam­mie is a spe­cial­ist moun­tain biker and has also branched out into cy­clocross and road cy­cling as part of her train­ing, the event was quite dif­fer­ent from the races she nor­mally com­petes in and was pri­mar­ily road-based.

It was made up of a se­ries of dif­fer­ent events, be­gin­ning with a team time trial, fol­lowed by a road race, then a short elim­i­na­tor moun­tain bike, and then a short course moun­tain bike. The last event was a cri­terium race.

“Even the moun­tain bik­ing wasn’t moun­tain bik­ing,” Sam­mie ex­plains. “The Games did what they could with the vil­lage and the venues they were given but in the mid­dle of a city you’re not go­ing to find big moun­tains and hills and off-road [tracks]. You’ve just got a lo­cal park and you’ve got to try and make do.

“The cour­ses def­i­nitely weren’t suited to me. I pre­fer hills and there was no el­e­va­tion gain in any of our races. I came away be­ing able to hold my own against girls that spe­cialise in flat rides and con­sis­tent power for 20 min­utes whereas I spe­cialise in hills and on-off power and tech­ni­cal skills”

Sam­mie fin­ished in the top 10 of the moun­tain bik­ing events and was in con­tention in the road rac­ing. She crashed in the road race but still com­pleted, but an­other, more spec­tac­u­lar crash into a set of bar­ri­ers in the last event, the cri­terium, re­ally did some dam­age. She came home sport­ing bruises and grazes but came off rel­a­tively lightly — her road bike was so badly dam­aged it will have to be re­placed.

“When I crashed I was go­ing 46.8km/h so I’m pretty okay with the bike tak­ing the im­pact.”

Sam­mie said she came away from the Youth Olympics know­ing that she was do­ing what she needed to do to be a spe­cial­ist moun­tain biker. To hold her own at the Games in events that were not her spe­cialty was “pretty cool”.

She only had 10 weeks’ no­tice of her se­lec­tion but her coach Alex Fierro de­signed “a pretty full-on” rac­ing block lead­ing into her de­par­ture for the Games.

While Sam­mie had to meet the cost of the trip her­self, which came to about $7000, she was grate­ful for the sup­port of the Taupo¯ Cy­cling Club, Taupo¯ Half Marathon Trust, the Taupo¯ Dis­trict Sports Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, and Tauhara Col­lege, which all con­trib­uted. In­sur­ance will cover the cost of her wrecked road bike.

Her next event is the 60km Huka Steamer at the BDO Lake Taupo¯ Cy­cle Chal­lenge and af­ter she will be­gin ramp­ing up for the Altherm Win­dow Sys­tems Moun­tain Bike Na­tion­als Cham­pi­onships in Ro­torua in March. Af­ter that, she is look­ing at more in­ter­na­tional events with a goal of achiev­ing a top 10 plac­ing in the World Cham­pi­onships at Mt St Anne in Canada in Oc­to­ber 2019.

In the mean­time though, Sam­mie’s next pri­or­ity is her level 2 NCEA ex­ams in cal­cu­lus, English, bi­ol­ogy, physics, chem­istry and sport sci­ence which be­gin this month.

She says she took away from the ex­pe­ri­ence was know­ing what it takes to be a pro­fes­sional ath­lete.

“You just have to keep work­ing at it, keep work­ing hard. It’s not a big mys­te­ri­ous spe­cial thing, there’s no se­cret ex­er­cises or any­thing, you just have to work hard.”

Photo / Bark­ing Cat Pho­tog­ra­phy

Sam­mie Max­well, 16, com­pet­ing in the com­bined cy­cling event at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.