Alexandra cyclist Tom Vessey describes his passion as a "good honest sport".
"I enjoy the physical aspect of it. You've got to be fit and you can't turn up without having put in the training and fully committing to it. And you have to be mentally tough to put yourself through pain to get your victory."
The 17-year-old made the national team for the Oceania Road Championships in Queenstown in March, and rates his third place in the under-19 Oceania road race, wearing the silver fern, as one of the highlights of his career so far.
Tom's main goal is to race professionally overseas and, one day, represent New Zealand in the Olympic Games - he has the 2016 or 2020 events in mind.
He also hopes to be chosen for the national team to race in the junior world road championships in Holland later this year.
"Short term, though, I'd like to be stepping on the top step of the podium for the road race at the nationals [club championships] this weekend."
He will race for the Central Otago-Wakatipu club at the nationals, which are being held in Napier, and is used to juggling competing and training around his school work.
In year 13 at Dunstan High School, Tom is studying physics, chemistry, calculus, statistics and geography for Level 3 NCEA.
"There's not a lot of time to sit around and do nothing, but it's all doable, with good time management."
He credits Dunstan's assistant principal, Alan Hamilton, with "helping me sort out things" so he can mix his studies with travelling around the country and overseas to race.
Parents Ann and Jeff Vessey also played a vital role in supporting his efforts and "paying the bills", Tom said.
He has two bikes on the go - one for road races and one for time trials. The road-race bike costs $5000-$8000 to replace and the time-trials one costs $3000-$5000, without wheels.
"After about a year, they start to wear out, so it can get quite expensive, as well as all the travelling around to races."
He got into cycling in a roundabout way, starting as a keen triathlon competitor when he was 12 or 13.
"I discovered I liked the cycling aspect of it best and picked that side of it up when I was in the third or fourth form, coached by Martyn Williamson.
"I went away on a few tours up north and really enjoyed it."
Tom trains for 12 to 15 hours a week. Most of that time is devoted to road, but he also does erg sessions and core strength training.
NAME: Tom Vessey (17)
School: Dunstan High School
Achievements: U19 Oceania road race, 3rd; U19 Rotorua Junior Tour GC, 1st; U19 track national team pursuit, 1st; national club U19 road race, 6th; national U19 points series, 3rd; South Island schools under-20 road race, 1st; Canberra Tour U19 king of the mountain, 2nd; U19 ACT Criterium Championships (Canberra Tour), 1st.
Article courtesy of the Otago Daily Times