As the buzz of the Rio Olympics slowly ebbs, Fitness Journal takes a look at local up and coming athletes, with an eye to future Olympic medallists.
In the second part of our Pathway to Podium series, we profile track cyclist Ellesse Andrews (16), who has set a number of New Zealand records and is already a Junior World champion.
The talented track rider moved to Cambridge earlier this year to pursue her sport, and as a St Peter’s student is located right beside the Avantidrome training track – closer than the three-hour drive she previously had to take from hometown Wanaka to train in Invercargill.
Name: Ellesse Andrews
Sport: Track cycling
Describe your sport?
Track cycling takes place on a purpose-built velodrome (concrete or wood). Distances raced range from sprint events (200m long), to endurance and team events. Races are either individual or team time trials, one-on-one sprints, or a range of different bunch races. The speeds are high and it’s an awesome spectator sport.
School and future career path?
Formerly based in Wanaka, I am now a year 12 student at St Peter’s in Cambridge, I made the move to Cambridge to pursue my cycling. Currently not set in stone about my future career, but I have many passions and interests, particularly the sciences, so am in the process of looking into careers which involve these.
Name your achievements?
2016 Junior World team sprint champion (with Emma Cumming), bronze in 2000m women’s individual team pursuit at UCI World Junior Track Championships
NZ Ranking: 2nd individual pursuit, 2nd 500m tt, 1st team sprint
World ranking: individual pursuit- 3rd, Team sprint- 1st
What are your short-term goals?
My track season has come to an end for a while, and I’m currently on a wee break before kicking back into training again. It looks like I’ll be competing later this year in the Oceania Games in Australia, so I’m looking to do well there and gain some more race experience.
What are your long-term goals?
For me, competing at an Olympic Games is a goal and dream of mine. It’s so inspiring seeing our New Zealand athletes competing in Rio, doing NZ proud, and coming home with some really good results. My long-term goal is to do this too.
What is required to reach your goals?
A lot of hard work and dedication is required to reach any goal in life. In cycling I strongly believe the champions are the ones with the mental approach that every pedal stroke counts. And it does, quite literally. When you begin to get older in your sport, it gets harder and harder for anyone to rely solely on natural ability. I believe that if I put all these aspects together, my goals will be possible, when I’m ready and the time is right.
How did you get involved in this sport?
I first started riding my bike and competing when I was 14. My family are very into cycling of all kinds, so I was often on a bike just for fun before I started on the track. Both my parents raced when when they were younger too – dad on the track, and mum as a mountain biker, so they were really supportive and keen for me to give riding a try. Dad, Jon is a former New Zealand track cycling Olympian.
What other sports have you been involved in?
From age seven until this year, I was playing netball, dancing also until recently and cross country skiing. Competitive swimming was also a big part of my life when I was younger.
What had been the biggest game changer for your involvement in the sport?
It would definitely be my move to Cambridge. Since then, I have been able to race regularly, ride with people my own age, train on the track, and be exposed to an amazing support team, from HPSNZ, Pathway to Podium, and Cycling New Zealand.
What is the highlight of your time in the sport to date?
Definitely winning the Junior World team sprint title with Emma Cumming. It’s such an amazing feeling to feel like all the hard work has paid off; that all the 6am gym sessions and racing until 9pm on the track were for something.
What is your greatest challenge?
So far, the greatest, most exciting, and best challenge for me was going to the Junior Worlds in Switzerland. The quality of racing was greatly different from anything I’d ever experienced before, the times the field were producing were definitely at another level from any other competitions I had competed in. All things that were really challenging and different, but in such a good way.
What does your training involve?
I enjoy all disciplines in my sport (sprinting and endurance events) which results in me having a programme with a variety of different aspects. This involves a lot of power, speed and endurance work.
What motivates you most?
I just love pushing myself to the limit, when I train and when I race. I also just love beating my times and making new personal bests, which is something that really pushes me to train my hardest and try my best.
What does it mean to be part of the Pathway to Podium programme?
Pathway to Podium has definitely played a massive role in getting me to where I am today. I have gained invaluable knowledge in a wide range of areas such as media, nutrition, mental skills, and drug-free sport. All of which are helping me develop and grow as an athlete.
Who are your sponsors and the team around you?
My main sponsor is Rapanui Bees, and my support team consists of many people from cycling New Zealand, HPSNZ, and Pathway to Podium.