Mountain biker Phoebe Young (17), of Wanaka, has been selected for the five-strong New Zealand cycling team to compete at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
She will compete in the 13-day games at Buenos Aires, starting on October 6.
When she heard the news, Phoebe was “ecstatic – I had a big grin over my face”.
“I was very proud and honoured that I could represent my country.”
Phoebe had not been to Argentina but “I took Spanish from year 9 to 11, and some of my friends speak Spanish, so I am trying to get them to help me learn a bit so I’m not completely lost when I’m over there.”
Phoebe said she was friends with Samara (Sammie) Maxwell, of Taupo, who is also in the team.
“We get along well, so it is really awesome that she is going to be my partner, because I think we work well together.”
Preparation for the games included building quick reflexes – “the races are quite short, so I’ll have to make sure I’m quick off the gun.”
Phoebe had studied maps of the terrain, which looked “relatively flat, which suits me because I am more of a power rider”.
Biking for Phoebe was about freedom: “You get to explore, you can hop on your bike and you can go anywhere. You get to really connect with nature.”
Cycling New Zealand high performance athlete development lead Graeme Hunn said the competitions were very beneficial for developing riders.
“The Youth Olympic Games is an important international stage for our young riders to experience the Olympic values and to both experience and understand the challenges of a vast multisport global competition,” he said.
Other members of the team are Jessie Smith and Cailen Calkin, both BMX riders from Hamilton, Samara (Sammie) Maxwell, of Taupo and Max Taylor, of Palmerston North. Young, Maxwell and Taylor will compete in both MTB and road-racing events.