Date: Thursday, 02 February 2017

Former New Zealand track cyclist Steph McKenzie is switching her to attention to life away from the bike.

The 23-year-old former Southland rider, now based in Palmerston North, is signing up for the Police and is also furthering her rugby aspirations as well as continuing with her studies and part-time business commitments.

The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games representative cyclist enjoyed her first taste of rugby sevens with the Massey University Club over summer and will look to build on the skills she has developed when she tackles fifteens this year.

"It is New Zealand's national sport and with the female support and interest on the rise, it would be rude not to give it a whirl," she said.

"I was very new at everything, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly."

"We will see how things go and have a bit of fun and whether we can transfer over, it will be pretty cool as well, but it is a big, big ask especially with the number of female rugby players now, it's a real big boom I am just a needle in a haystack, which is good, I quite like it."

McKenzie is focused on pursuing a career in the Police, although she could potentially be interested in furthering her rugby ambitions depending on how things pan out.

"I'm not quite sure how things go and whether I enjoy it or not, because it is a completely different sport, but I think the intensity of being in a high performance environment is quite different and difficult," she said.

"I might have a bit of time out and enjoy myself and look more at a career in the Police, rather than a sporting career as such at the moment, but there is so much time, and time will tell I reckon."

As part of the Police programme, McKenzie must undergo various tests over the next year, which will represent new challenges for her.

"My dream career has always been the NZ Police, so I am finally set out to complete that dream and have started the process, which is super exciting," she said.

"First of all I need to learn how to run, having been a cyclist for so long, my body actually has to adapt to running because cycling is such a low impact sport, but a great way to help rehab injuries, it leaves running as my second choice."

"It is a new goal and I look forward to achieving it."

The New Zealand junior record sprint record holder over 200m has lost some enthusiasm for cycle racing, although she enjoys her role coaching junior and masters riders.

"I have had the past year to process my thoughts and realised that the spark had just disappeared," she said.

"I wasn't having fun anymore, so I needed to realign my thoughts and actions to start enjoying myself again."

The part-time Bachelor of Sport and Exercise student is looking forward to racing in Invercargill again, where she moved as a 17-year-old for three years.

She has no expectations for the 2017 nationals and will be competing for the West Coast North Island team in the women's sprint events.

"It is such an amazing feeling coming back to Invercargill, not just to ride on the velodrome, but it's the people," she said. 

"Over that time I met some amazing people that made my stay here so much more enjoyable."

Her career highlights include winning UCI Junior World Championships medals in 2010 and 2011, along with representing New Zealand at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 2015 World Championships.

Article and photo courtesy Stuff

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