Pathway to Podium: Rebecca Petch

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With the BMX National Champs fast looming, local racer Rebecca Petch is hoping to impress.

Rebecca Petch

The talented Te Awamutu athlete already has a swag of national titles and world experience under her belt, but is committed to continuing her winning streak, with a long-term goal of Olympic representation.

The 18-year-old may boast the record of being NZ#1 for 10 years – but she remains remarkably down to earth and modest. Her national success is all the more impressive given the highly competitive nature of the sport in New Zealand.

Since taking up the sport as a three-year-old, Rebecca won her first race a year later and continued to dominate in the sport, holding the national title for 10 consecutive years. Her training buddy is older brother Cameron, a former national champion (who was also selected for the world championships, but turned it down to focus on rugby).

Under the careful guidance of her coach Matt Cameron, Rebecca is described as an athlete who thrives on the daily grind and does whatever it takes day in and day out to be the best athlete and representative she can.

As well as coaching on the physical side of the sport, equal importance is placed on mental and tactical components, as well as mentoring for life on and off the bike to ensure Rebecca is well-rounded and prepared for a long career of international racing.

A member of the Nine4Nine racing team which trains and competes together nationally and internationally, and of the Pathway to Podium programme, Fitness Journal finds out more about Rebecca and her sport…

Name: Rebecca Petch
Age: 18
Sport: BMX Racing

Current ranking?
New Zealand #1 for Junior Elite women, North Island #1 for Elite Women

Career path?
My dream is to make the Olympic Games and to live the life of a BMX racer travelling the world. Within the next 10 years I would like to become a police officer and help make a difference to our community.

How did you get involved in the sport?
I first started BMX in 2001 when I was three years old. My brother was involved and I watched him from the sideline for about a year, then became bored watching him, so gave it a go myself and have never looked back.

Outline your upcoming season?
I have just completed in the Australian National series to gain UCI points, followed by the Oceania Championships in Australia. This April, I’ll be racing at my home track in Te Awamutu for the National BMX Championships. In May I head to Europe to compete in four World Cup rounds held in Holland and Belgium.

What is your greatest successes to date?
Being NZ #1 for 10 years in a row.
Being the first girl in NZ to make the mighty 11 boys’ team
Gaining multiple world plates

What motivates you?
 I enjoy setting myself challenges, even when they are out of my comfort zone. The feeling of achieving big or small goals makes me thrive for more success.

What is your greatest challenge?
Stepping outside my comfort zone. Also, finding the financial support to be able to travel the world for competitions to better myself at an international level.

Who is the team around you?
My coach and mentor Matt Cameron. Matt writes me monthly programmes covering all aspects of training best suited for me. E.g. track, sprint and gym training. He analyses my techniques and pushes me to be the best that I can be. My family; everything I do wouldn’t be possible without their continued support and I can’t thank them enough for being by my side. Pathway to Podium; Daniella Meier has been a massive help with all other aspects such as mentally preparing me for racing and day-to-day training. Pathway to Podium has also been a massive help with nutrition, physiology, life advice, athlete support, etc. I am also hugely grateful to my sponsors who help make it possible for me to continue in the sport: Schick Construction & Cartage, 100% NZ, McFall Fuel, Cornerstone Trust, The Adastra Foundation and Royalty BMX.

What training is involved?
I train six days a week and sometimes twice a day. Training at the BMX track; some are skill based and others involve effort – runs down straights, etc. I also do sprint and gym training.

What gives you the most pleasure?
Achieving my goals and personal bests, whether it be in the gym at the track, or sprinting, seeing improvements gives me the motivation to push harder.  

What is your long-term goal?
To make 2020 Toyko Olympic Games.

Was there a time when you thought of giving up?
Yes, particularly when there were too many things in life to try and juggle, but I kept at it and have so much love for the sport.

List five things people would be surprised to know about you?
I train super hard to be able to try and gain a few inches down the ramp.
A BMX race is only 30-40 seconds long but at the end it feels like you’ve just been for a 10km run
I can’t remember the last time that I had an off season.
I’ve never broken a bone (touch wood) and I’ve been racing BMX for almost 16 years.
I never used training wheels to learn to ride a bike when I was two years old.

What is your favourite local training spot?
Te Awamutu BMX track. There are so many different things to do on it, it is a great learning track and a bonus that it is in my home town.

Where in the world would you like to train/compete?
Europe. Because there are so many fast riders to race against and all the countries are so close.

Are you involved with other sports?
I used to play netball and touch rugby but had to make a decision to concentrate fully on BMX.

Who inspires you?
My coach Matt Cameron, because he is always willing to help others and he can just jump on a bike and do big jumps on flat pedals.

What advice wold you give to others wanting to have a go at the sport?
Give it a go and if you enjoy it and are having fun, then keep at it.

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