It’s not often you would see a BMX rider racing a road bike. It is even rarer that this would happen at an international level. However that is the concept that four New Zealand junior cyclists will take on when they compete in the Youth Olympic Games in August.
Singapore is hosting the first-ever Youth Olympic Games. Trent Woodcock (Auckland), Sam Shaw (Rotorua), Denay Cottam (New Plymouth) and Sarah Kate McDonald (Clyde), all under 19 cyclists have been selected to represent New Zealand. Each coming from different codes, they will combine forces to enter this unique and innovative relay-style competition.
Woodcock will compete in the BMX race, Shaw in a cross country mountain bike race, Cottam in an individual road time trial, and all three riders will come together to compete in the road race. McDonald, who has a mountain biking background, will have to transfer her cycling skills across the codes, racing not only a cross country race, but also BMX and a road time trial.
International competition is nothing new previous age group BMX World Champion, Trent Woodcock:
“This would have to be the biggest thing that I’ve ever done, especially as it’s the first time that the event’s been held. I think the only thing better would be going to the Olympics! It’s a pretty proud thing to do, I know I would have everyone at home riding with me.”
While it seems a bizarre concept, it is aimed at fostering team work and cohesion between the various cycling codes. The team’s performance is based on the performance of each individual, their results being combined to result in one overall placing. For the five different cycling events raced, there is only one trio of medals to be awarded to the best teams.
In order to test the aptitudes of riders across the different codes a selection camp was held in Rotorua over the weekend – a venue perfect to host the three codes. It saw a variety of coaches collaborate on this event, each getting the chance to learn more about the other codes. Working with the athletes was BikeNZ’s under 19 men’s road coach Ken Bewley, BikeNZ’s assistant BMX’s coach Ryan Hollows, New Zealand representative mountainbiker, Mark Leishman and BikeNZ selector Hamish Ferguson along with contributions from a variety of other individuals. John Lee, who managed the winning team at the Trust House Tour of Wellington will manage the team.
Shaw’s talents aren’t solely limited to the bike. Earlier this year he won the under 25 Xterra triathlon, qualifying for the Xterra Worlds in Hawaii.
Cottam has a road and track background. He took a break from cycling in 2009 to establish himself in his plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying apprenticeship, only reconnecting with competitive cycling at the beginning of this year.
McDonald is a mountainbiker but enjoys skiing, snowboarding, motorbiking and waterskiing. She has represented New Zealand on the road at the renowned Junior Canberra Tour.
The Youth Olympics runs from the 14th – 26th August. Singapore will host 5,000 athletes and team officials from 205 countries. Alongside the competition, there will be a cultural education program for the athletes which will promote the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.