Last weekend four emerging Para athletes made their track cycling debut on the boards of the Avantidrome velodrome in Cambridge. Athletes were invited to attend the “Introduction to track cycling” camp after impressing coaches at a Paralympics New Zealand Para cycling talent identification camp in January.
Athletes participated in an introductory skills session led by current Cycling New Zealand 500m Women’s Team Sprint National Champion, Tess Young. In this session cyclists learnt about track bikes (What? No brakes?), bike handling skills, bunch riding, passing, and track etiquette. All athletes were then assessed for skill and safety during a track accreditation session, with all riders obtaining their accreditation to use the Avantidrome ongoing.
Paralympics New Zealand Para Cycling Head Performance Coach, Stuart MacDonald, and National Para Cycling Development Coordinator, Laura Thompson, led individual development planning sessions with each athlete to better understand personal goals and implement appropriate training and competition plans. To assist with training planning and monitoring, athletes also learnt how to use an online training diary to log their sessions.
The camp finished off with one last session on the track to consolidate skills and feel what it is like to ride fast! The session included both skill-based activities and a flying 250m time trial to get a baseline of the athletes’ first ever sprint on the track.
Matt McDiarmid (29, Auckland, C1) was referred to Paralympics New Zealand in late 2016 by a family friend. Matt said the experience “blew my mind! I enjoyed going fast and getting up high. I also really enjoyed seeing how much I improved in one day”. Sarah Ellington (27, Auckland, C2) attended the Paralympics New Zealand ACC Open Day in Auckland last year after seeing an advertisement on facebook, and is now a promising member of the Paralympics New Zealand Para Cycling Development Squad. Reflecting on her first track cycling session, Sarah felt “it was quite scary at first, but also really fun and quite addictive as well”.
Athletes will now return to regular training under the watchful eye of new coach Laura Thompson, and will prepare for the Cycling New Zealand Road Cycling National Championships in May.
If you would like to find out more about becoming involved in Para cycling, please register your interest now.