On the road to Youth Olympics

Wanaka cyclist Phoebe Young jets off to Argentina next week to compete in the Youth Olympic Games...
Wanaka cyclist Phoebe Young jets off to Argentina next week to compete in the Youth Olympic Games and fulfil a lifelong dream. PHOTO: SEAN NUGENT
It has been years in the making, but Phoebe Young is to finally take the first step towards her Olympic dream.

The 18-year-old Wanaka cyclist jets off to Buenos Aires next week to compete in the Youth Olympic Games as part of a five-strong New Zealand cycling team.

The games will be Young's first global competition and she was feeling a mix of excitement and nerves.

"It's a stepping stone towards the actual Olympics, which is my ultimate goal."

"I'm pretty excited, a tad nervous, but it's going to be an awesome experience and I just want to try and make the most of it."

Having competed in several New Zealand and Oceania competitions, both on and off the road, Young said she was looking forward to coming up against some of the world's best young riders and gaining experience that would help her continue to develop into a better athlete.

"You get to understand the environment [of the world stage] a bit more, because I've only really ever competed in Oceania.

"Getting to know the different competitors, knowing their specialties are and what they're not so good at will be good because the better you know the riders, the easier it is to race against them.

"Also there'll likely be a lot of distractions at the games, so I can learn how to stay focused and bring that into future races.

"It's so hard to know [what to expect] because I've never competed against these people before. I think I can set a goal after the first race but I'm hoping top 10, although that might be a bit optimistic.

"I just want to make sure I race smart and race well and as long as I do that, it doesn't really matter in terms of results. As long as I'm riding well, I'll be happy with my performance."

The teenager is no slouch and her Olympic selection follows some strong performances this year.

She claimed the female under-19 titles at both the New Zealand individual time trial and Oceania cross-country championships and finished second in the Oceania individual time trial and New Zealand cross-country championships.

Her second placing in the Oceania time trial was the result she was most proud of, as it was unfamiliar territory.

"I was pretty happy with that because I didn't really know how it would go. I'd never prepared for Oceania champs before on the road, I'd only raced on the mountain bike."

"The last couple of years I've been taking road racing more seriously."

"I'm riding the best I ever had but hopefully not the best I ever will."

At the Youth Olympics, Young will compete as part of a team alongside Taupo rider Samara Maxwell in three road events and two cross-country events in the space of five days.

She said would be a new experience for the pair, who had never competed as a team together, but she was looking forward to it.

"It'll be quite cool [to ride as a team] because there'll be a lot more tactics involved. It'll be interesting to see how other countries play it."

The pair will meet in Taupo this weekend to train together before the team heads off on October 3.

They will have plenty of time to acclimatise and scope out the course once they arrive in Argentina, as their first race is not until October 13.


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