Challenge of going in as champion not lost on Duncan

Courtney Duncan
Courtney Duncan
Courtney Duncan is in a new position this year.

When the Palmerston motocross rider leaves for England next week, it will be to defend her world title, not chase it.

The 24-year-old has been back in training for six weeks in preparation for her first race on March 1, in Great Britain.

After three years of being denied by misfortune, this year is the first time she enters the series as the champion.

‘‘This is all new to me, I’m not going to lie,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve never been in a position where I’m coming in as a champ.

‘‘I’ve always been coming in with a chip on my shoulder to prove a point.

‘‘It is a different position to be in and it’s something we’re going to learn as the season gets on, I’m sure.

‘‘I just want to continue to have fun first and foremost; I think that’s a big part of it.

‘‘When I’m having fun and I’m putting in the work with a smile on my face, results come with that for me.’’

It had also made for a far more relaxing summer.

A stray photographer, a controversial jury decision and a foot injury had made for frustrating ends to the past three seasons.

In 2019, everything finally fell into place and she won with a race to spare.

After returning home in September, Duncan took some time off training to catch up with family and friends.

‘‘It was cool to just be satisfied this year.

‘‘I think every year I’ve come home super disappointed, feeling like you’ve let your people down.

‘‘This year I came home and had achieved that.

‘‘It was cool to just relax.

‘‘This summer I’ve really been able to relax and just be able to soak that in.

‘‘So that was really cool but obviously there’s a lot of work ahead.’’

Despite the frustrations, she was not a believer in luck.

Being smart was key and she felt some of her decisions ‘‘hadn’t always been the best ones’’.

In 2019 that was a focus and it was something that paid off.

This time around, she would continue tweaking her preparations to keep getting faster.

‘‘They say it’s even more difficult to back the championship up the second year.

‘‘So I’ve just got to work hard and keep looking for improvements.

‘‘Really just not settling.

‘‘I think once you settle, you give your opposition that opportunity to catch up on you.

‘‘So just looking at ways I can be better this year.’’

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