Whelan a world champion

Southland based cyclist Ruth Whelan took out the 500m time trial title for 
Southland based cyclist Ruth Whelan took out the 500m time trial title for women 45-49 at the Masters Track Cycling World Championships earlier this month. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Southland cyclist has gone from total newbie to world champion, just a few years after taking up the sport.

At the Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester, Ruth Whelan took out the 500m time trial title for women in the 45-49-year age group — not only joining the ranks as world champion, but setting a new national record.

Hailing from a village in England, Whelan said she had never done any sort of "sporty cycling" until she moved to Invercargill in 2016, taking up track cycling shortly after.

"My husband and I, we thought it would be fun to try to have a go on the Velodrome and we did the [BNZ Corporate Challenge], and we’ve just carried on from there," she said.

With a handful of national titles now under her belt, Whelan said she was stoked to make her latest achievement on an international scale.

Her training for the worlds kicked in a little over a year ago, and she maintained a consistent schedule of hitting both the track and the gym throughout the week, as well as bouts on the mountain bike and trainer, she said.

"I’ve just tried to be really consistent over that is to build it as time goes on."

Whelan took out the time trial with a final time of 37.064 seconds — a result she was stoked with.

"I was confident that I could do a 37-second time. That was a personal best for me, so I was really pleased to get a low 37.

"It was very tight between me and Sonja Moi, of Norway, who came second. There was less than a 10th of a second between us.

"I was just so stoked when I saw the time. I was really, really pleased with that. And then when it then turned into a gold medal, I was absolutely delighted."

Following her record breaking win, Whelan also claimed the silver medal in the individual sprints 45-49 age group.

Now back at home, Whelan said she was going to take some time off settling back into the home routine before cracking on to the next tournament

"We’ve got the Southland track champs coming up in December, and then there will be nationals next year ... haven’t made any sort of more decisions. At the moment, I’m just going to relax a little bit and see how I feel next year on what comes next."