NZ cycling spots Maggie Allan's talent

By Greg Taipari

Rotorua cyclist Maggie Allan has come a long way from the girl who had to borrow a bike that the pedals kept falling off.

Today, the 16-year-old has been selected in the under-19 New Zealand road cycling development squad.

Maggie, a Year 11 student at Waikato Diocesan, took up competitive cycling three years ago.

"It was either that or rowing. My dad rides so I tried it and enjoyed it and just carried on with it."

Maggie had a far from stellar start to her cycling career.

"I had to borrow a bike from the bike shed at school. It was a bike an [old girl] had left in the bike shed. The seat was too small, the pedals kept on falling off and I had to wear running shoes," Maggie said.

The youngster didn't let this hold her back, in fact it made her determined to try harder.

"I'd watch all these riders going past me or way up in the front, but I never let that get me down. I just tried harder."

The former Mokoia Intermediate pupil has come a long way since then. This year she made her school's senior A cycling team, competed at the North Island Secondary Schools Road Cycling Road champs, was first in the criterium at the National Road Cycling champs, was second in the Junior Tour of Taranaki and Junior Tour of Manawatu (where she won the final stages in both events) and was the first female home in the 84km Ibis Bike the Lake. To top the year off, Maggie was selected in the under-19 New Zealand development team.

"I'm really excited about that, I have a couple of training camps, then next year I do several races. If I do well in those races, who knows where it could lead?"

Maggie said she was inspired by former gold-medal Olympian Sarah Ulmer. "She came to our school and talked to us. That was really cool."

Rotorua's top cyclists, Julian Dean and Sam Bewley, are also role models.

"I haven't met them yet but what they have achieved inspires me as well."

Maggie is balancing training with her school commitments at the moment.

"It's not too bad. We are on study leave right now and whenever I feel like studying is getting too much, I go out for a long ride and then come back into the dorm and study again."

Maggie isn't the only Allan family member who has found a passion in cycling. Her younger sister Brigitte, 14, also competes.

"It's quite good actually because we are always trying to beat each other when we are training together."

Maggie's first training camp for the development squad is next month.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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