Cycling: Cheatley stores her bike to take up new role

Beijing Olympian Cath Cheatley, who suffered serious injuries in a crash last year, has retired from competitive cycling but won't be lost to the sport.

The 29-year-old harboured hopes of qualifying for the London Olympics despite suffering multiple fractures to her hip in a crash when racing in Taranaki last October.

She faced rehabilitation from surgery after shattering her acetabulum and top of the hip. Despite good progress and a return to cycling, she hasn't recovered quickly enough to be a competitive international cyclist again and has retired from the sport.

Instead, Cheatley will take up a fulltime role as one of BikeNZ's regional development coordinators.

"When the numbness didn't leave and I couldn't get the power through the leg, I just had to be realistic that not only was London out of the question, but riding competitively again is a long shot," she said.

"I put all of my energy into rehab in the hope I might make it but I needed a miracle to reach top form and push for a medal in London. The reality is that I have the rest of my life to live with family and friends and I can't risk it all on one race.

I just hope the good feeling I had about London will transfer to my husband's track team.

"I can ride my bike but I can't generate the power I need to go fast. What I like about cycling is racing and I really do miss it. You don't know how much you love something until you can't do it."

With her husband Dayle, BikeNZ's women's endurance track coach, moving to the sport's new base at the Avantidrome in Cambridge next year, Cheatley has taken up a new role in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty region.

"After making the tough decision on my competitive career, with the amazing support from my family, I saw this position advertised and thought maybe it was meant to be. Now I have the opportunity to encourage and help others to enjoy the sport that I love so much."

Cheatley is one of the country's most successful female riders. A professional in the US since 2008, she won a bronze medal in the points race at the 2007 world track championships and finished in the top 10 on the road at the 2009 world championships in Italy. She was crowned the 2010 US National Road Series champion and is a three-time winner of the national road title.

She competed in the Beijing Olympics and the Melbourne and Delhi Commonwealth Games and her international victories included the Tour of Wellington in 2006 and the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic as well as stage wins at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, Cascade Tour, Tour of Gila and Altoona Criterium during her outstanding 2010 season.

Although she has started her new role, she will take time out to head to the US later this month to help with the preparations in Pennsylvania for the BikeNZ junior endurance track squad as they prepare for August's world championships in Invercargill.

- APNZ

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