“May you realise all but one of your dreams” – Unknown
To understand yourself is the best place to start when making a difference. For any young athlete finding their feet and their place in the world is challenging. Adding in New Zealand’s geographic isolation, size and limited population, these factors pose multiple barriers for our young athletes nationwide.
Using Mountain biking as a vehicle it has helped develop me into the man I am today, but not for the reasons you might think. With limited support throughout my racing journey as I navigated my high school years, I was frustrated to find myself achieving results but not progressing into the well-rounded young man I wanted to be. That all changed when I took a step back from day in, day out endurance training and looked deeper into what makes a great athlete great, and how great athletes make great people. I soon realised there was something missing on my journey.
With curiosity to learn, but also share my knowledge I gained the courage thanks to a few key race results to begin my coaching journey in 2016 at 18 years old. As a young coach I quickly learnt I had opened a can of worms and took more and more responsibility upon myself. Recently my own racing and training has taken a backseat to developing programs and opportunities for tomorrows riders. I am thoroughly loving the journey coaching is taking me on, the people I meet and the impact I am having within the mountain bike community. I believe this genuine desire to see other young people surpass their own expectations with the opportunities I have created is the reason my programs have been so successful this far.
As a young rider there were two underlying questions I always had. The first was ‘New Zealand has a huge number of talented junior riders, why isn’t there more support for them’ and the second ‘Why do the majority of quality riders leave the sport when they leave school?’ Answering these questions is an ongoing process which I am determined to work on. Looking deeper into these two questions realised that it is not just an issue within cycling, but many sports in New Zealand.
Create a development process by educating clubs to teach and support their youth in areas from skill acquisition through to nurturing race experience, promoting balance and then flow into our national bodies’ athlete support structure. I am currently putting steps in place working towards this goal.
Maintaining and continuing to improve the Mountainbike Tauranga Junior Development Process. Since establishing the Junior Development Process within Mountainbike Tauranga I’ve already seen over 300 different riders since 2016. Children come and go from competitive mountain biking, but as long as they have a smile on their face, physically active and learning on the way then I then Junior Development process will continue to achieve its goal. I have created a fun, inspiring and challenging development process within Mountainbike Tauranga that takes in riders from 7 years and progresses them until the end of high school. Although the focus is primarily on competitive kids there is room for riders wanting to develop as a recreational mountain biker within the process.
The final primary objective is to support passionate individual riders on their competitive journey through the sport. This objective poses challenges daily but has been the most fulfilling part of my coaching journey so far.
“My Aim is to inspire children to stay active, to always come back to what you love to do, to be yourself” – Jenny Rissverds, 2016 Olympic Gold Medallist.