Date: Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Promising Southland cyclist Emma Cumming will be a rider to watch at the 2016 Junior World Track Cycling Championships in Switzerland starting on July 20.

The 18-year-old Cambridge-based rider will be competing in the under-19 event for the second year in a row, after claiming a silver medal in the team sprint with Canterbury's Rio-bound Olivia Podmore in 2015.

​She also finished fourth in the 500m time trial at last year's meeting in Kazakhstan.

Cumming will be competing in the team sprint, 500m time trial, sprints and keirin in Switzerland as she returns to the event with an extra year of experience under her belt.

"For me this championship is based around achieving personal bests and executing the correct processes around travel, nutrition and competition," she said.

"I believe that if I can execute these processes to the best of my ability, the results will follow, and if not there is lots to be learnt in helping me become a better rider and person in the process."

According to coach Karl Watson, the upcoming event is the big goal for the teenager.

"She was around the top in her first year, and she is still getting stronger and tactically better as an athlete," he said.

The junior world champs will be the last opportunity for the former Southland Girls' High School student to attend the junior world champs before she moves up to the elite ranks.

Cumming will be buoyed by some good form leading into the meet.

She won the team sprint in 35.330 with fellow Southland rider Ellesse Andrews at the second Tasman Cup meeting in Melbourne recently, while Cumming also claimed the keirin after finishing second in her heat.

"This event in Australia gave us an opportunity to try new things and also get some valuable international race experience," she said.

"I am pleased with the way I am tracking heading into junior worlds."  

It has been an impressive year for the rising star who claimed the junior sportsperson of the year award at the 2015/16 Southland Sports Awards.

"For me it was a huge honour to be nominated, let alone win such a prestigious award," she said. 

"To win it in a field of probably the most outstanding junior talent I have seen, makes me so proud to be a Southlander."

The Southland cyclist is now based at the High Performance Sport New Zealand in Cambridge which has helped with her development.

"The environment in Cambridge is like no other," she said.

"Training and racing alongside people who have the same goals and aspirations as you is something that constantly pushes you out of your comfort zone, which grows you as an athlete and as a person even more."

"I'm really enjoying working with the HPSNZ coaches and support team to help me become the best athlete I can be.

"I am learning so much with being in this environment and to be honest with you I am living the dream, I'm doing what I love for a job with a bit of part time study on the side."

There will be a strong Southland presence in the New Zealand squad at the junior world champs with Cumming joined by Andrews, Brad Knipe, Tom Sexton and Nicole Shields in Switzerland. 

 Article and photo courtesy Stuff

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