Date: Thursday, 17 August 2017

Southland cyclist Emma Cumming is looking to push for a spot in the New Zealand team with the Commonwealth Games in her sights, after some good results in the United States in recent months.

The 19-year-old is in Invercargill visiting friends and family before she returns to Cambridge in an attempt to crack the New Zealand team for upcoming World Cup events starting in November and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April.

"The biggest thing for me is that I am trying to put my hand up there to be selected for things like the World Cups, so nothing is ever guaranteed as everyone knows in life," she said.

"So I am trying to put my hand up nice and high and be like, I want to be here and I want to give this a shot."

The sprinter knows that competition is fierce for places to head to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, with spaces limited to two women's sprinters, four men's sprinters, five men's endurance riders and five women's endurance riders.

"The Commonwealth Games is something, which is in my sights, but I know it is something which is one of the hardest competitions to be selected for and with us in the women's sprint we do have a huge competition among us girls," she said.

"There are a lot of girls coming up and a lot of girls in the programme who are outstanding riders, so for me my biggest goal is to train as hard as I can and do everything I can to put my hand up to be selected and what will be, will be."

Cumming was part of a New Zealand team riding for eight weeks in six UCI races in the United States during the New Zealand winter, which was a new adventure for the teenager.

"It was really cool, it was an experience like no other," she said.

"There's always challenges going into unfamiliar territory, the biggest thing for me was the typical American food life, so that was one of the biggest things I struggled with, was the nutrition."

"But everything else was good, the heat was a bit of a struggle, going from New Zealand winter to hot American summers where most days were 30 degrees."

She noticed the big step up from riding in the junior programme to moving up to the elite level ranks, but was pleased with the way the team members supported each other.

"Coming from the junior programme where we have one big event during the year, which is the junior worlds, moving into the elite programme we go into having World Championships, six World Cups a year and then you have got Commonwealth Games and Olympics all coming up."

"So learning how to race at so many races is an awesome thing to be able to do and racing for eight weeks straight, you know racing is the best training."

Highlights of the trip included watching the whole team improve, picking up a keirin and wheel race title, along with riding with team-mate Olivia Podmore in the women's sprint again after the pair's success at the 2015 Junior World Track Cycling Championships.

"The wheel race title is something that reminds me of home, wheel races are a big thing at Southland carnivals, it reminded me of being at home and racing on a home track so that was always cool," she said.

Photo and article courtesy Stuff

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