Former West Auckland cyclist Stephanie McKenzie could be considered a winner just by making it to the track for next week's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The 21-year-old McKenzie, who is a Type 1 diabetic and this year told Action Weekend the struggles of overcoming the disease, will compete in the sprint disciplines in Glasgow.

Diabetes is something she has had to cope with since being diagnosed at the age of 8, and she has learned not only to survive but thrive in sport.

McKenzie became the first Kiwi woman to win a junior world championship sprint medal when she teamed with Auckland's Henrietta Mitchell to win silver in the team sprint at Italy in 2010.


She followed this with three further medals the following year in Moscow - silver in the sprint and keirin and bronze in the team sprint with Paige Patterson.

Much of her early success came after she moved from Auckland to Invercargill and joined the Southland Cycling Academy. The next big jump came when she moved to the new centralised programme in Cambridge, coming under national sprint coach Anthony Peden.

"The big thing in Cambridge is that you can get access to the coaching, sports science, medical and mechanical staff all the time. You have one-on-one face-to-face access - our power files, visualisation of what we look like on the track, strength and conditioning, health - you name it.

"It has been a good challenge - that's how I saw it. I like those challenges. The coaches around me said they really believed in me and helped me believe in myself."

McKenzie knows it is a big step to compete against some of the best in the world, led by Australian Anna Meares, next week in Glasgow.

"The first big thing for me is having the belief in myself that I can win a medal at the Commonwealth Games."

Meares has won 10 world titles and two Olympic gold medals.

"It's great to have the chance to race Anna - she is a massive inspiration for me and my role model."

Not that she intends to be overawed by the experience.

"She is my competition now, so while she is my role model I am treating her like any other competitor. I have to believe in myself that I can beat her."

McKenzie competes in the 500m time trial on the opening night of competition, followed by the sprint at the weekend.