The following is a report of my experience of what proved to be the best month of my life: the 2014 junior track cycling world championships, held in Seoul, South Korea.
After a long buildup since nationals, comprising of multiple training camps throughout the year and culminating in a final 2 week camp, we jumped on a plane bound for Japan. This final camp was awesome, as it not only got us up to our peak conditions physically, but it also gave us a taster of what the life of a professional athlete is like. It was also very cool to be in a team environment for so long, as we, ‘Unit 14’ grew to know each other very well and build some lasting friendships.
After the 2 weeks of final prep, and a late night followed very closely by an early start in Auckland, we flew to Japan. This was a relatively short stopover, so before long we were in the air again, headed for Korea, landed, and made our way to the hotel that would be our home away from home for the next two weeks. Over the last few remaining days we had before competition, we polished off our routines, checked out the HUGE velodrome (apologies for the lack of a name, I still cant pronounce it), visited a gym or two, and went for a wander through the warrens of Seoul. As the hotel we were staying at also housed a few other countries, we had the opportunity to meet riders our age from Belgium, Aussie, Malaysia, Russia, and Portugal among others.
Anyway, eventually race day arrived. First up was team sprint. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the ride we hoped for and finished 8th. The next day was the keirins. After being knocked out in the first round, and put through to the repecharges (2nd chance rounds), I was determined that I hadn’t come all this way to mess up my favourite event. I won my repecharge, made it through the semifinals, and found myself in a world championship final. A wee tactical error saw me finish fifth, but I was pretty happy as I had executed race plans all day, shown I had the strength to kick it with the best, and above all, learnt a LOT. Being ranked in the top 5 U19 keirin riders in the world is pretty cool
The 1 km time trial was the next day, and I finished 15th, which was a pleasant surprise as I had no idea how I’d match up against the worlds best juniors in a kilo.
A change of plans also saw me riding the sprints the next day, but unfortunately I missed out on qualification by one placing.
It was fantastic for local rider Luke Mudgway to bring home a rainbow jersey with him. Congratulations mate, I’m sure you’ve inspired the next wave of Manawatu champions.
Junior worlds was a massive experience, and the best one in my life to date. The friendships forged, knowledge and race craft learnt… it’s difficult to describe. All I can say is: to our junior riders aspiring to make the worlds team in a year or two, keep it up. All the work is worth it. And if you’re given the opportunity to go, Take it and give it everything you’ve got.