Five unfamiliar faces will have come familiar to television audiences all over New Zealand and the world as they appeared in the award ceremonies at the TISSOT UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Cambridge from 18-20 January.
Top junior cyclists Mya Anderson (16), Courtney King (17), Olivia King (17), Mckenzie Milne (17) and Eva Parkinson (17) were selected by Cycling New Zealand to present the winner’s medals to riders at the Avantidrome.
Giving the young riders the opportunity to get up close to their cycling idols has provided them with an experience they will not forget anytime soon, and has served as further fuel to the fire to reach for higher honours in the sport.
Mya, Olivia, Courtney, McKenzie and Eva are all members of the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Performance Hub, a group of local U19 and U23 riders who have been identified by Cycling New Zealand as high performance athletes of the future. The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Hub is sponsored and supported by Grassroots Trust, who are also an institutional partner of the TISSOT UCI Track World Cup.
All five started track cycling as a natural progression from road cycling, which they began competing in at high school. Courtney and Mya were drawn to the sport by its speed, while all girls agreed that the environment is now their favourite part of being involved in track cycling.
“Watching the support, encouragement and camaraderie that the riders receive from each other, especially when they achieve new personal bests is the best part,” adds Olivia.
“The team environment feels like a family. Everyone supports each other through successes and disappointments, and you make friends that you will be friends with for the rest of your life,” notes Mckenzie.
This is the second time volunteering at a world cup for Olivia and Mckenzie after they were also involved during the 2015 event. While over three years ago now, it left a lasting impression on all five of the girls who enjoyed both the atmosphere and seeing some of the world’s very best riders at the time racing on their home track. Mckenzie and Mya even got to witness their favourite rider, Kristina Vogel, ride in New Zealand before her career was tragically cut short in a racing accident during 2018.
Having a world cup at home on the track where they regularly train is inspirational for the quintet, who dream of representing New Zealand on the world stage at major international competitions in the future, such as the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
“It makes you want to train harder and faster like the big guns,” said Mckenzie.
In the meantime, they will be focusing on short term goals such as making the Junior World Championship squad to race in Germany this year. Four of the girls will juggle their aspirations with their first year of tertiary study at the University of Waikato, while Mya will be completing Year 12 at Cambridge High School.
While not performing their official duties, the young riders will be soaking up all the racing on offer as part of a junior track camp taking place over the weekend. Watching the Madison racing last night and today was high on the agenda of most of the girls, with it being their favourite event to watch, while Courtney enjoyed seeing New Zealand sprinter Eddie Dawkins take out the men’s keirin event.
Though the competition still has one day to go, the results have sweetened the deal for the girls, able to present gold medals to the record breaking men’s and women’s team pursuit combinations, and the men’s team sprint trio on opening night, following that with the victorious men’s madison duo and Eddie Dawkins on Saturday night.
The event concludes today with men’s sprint, women’s keirin, men’s omnium, women’s madison and women’s scratch races. It will be televised on Sky Sport in New Zealand from 9am.
Tickets to the Sunday sessions are still available and can be purchased through Ticketek.