Perago Trust grant recipient Kyle Atiken gives an update on his training, competition and Junior Worlds Track Championships

It’s been a long journey with many ups and downs but finally I’m back in Cambridge. Throughout the last 4 months with training camps and track racing taking place it has been wonderful to know I’ve had an amazing community follow me in my journey to making it to Junior Worlds 2022. I am so thankful for all the support you have given me and everything you have been able to contribute, it has made this trip possible for me and I cannot thank you enough.

During my time leading up to Junior worlds in August, my team had been training hard in Invercargill and Cambridge. Through these trainings our team grew stronger and became faster every day. At the 2nd training camp and NTS racing here in Cambridge I had a bad crash in the madison race. At the time I was bruised and received bad burns and bandaged up, I thought nothing of it and continued to train the very next day.

Sadly, our second camp finished early due to covid reasons.  Everyone had to go home and continue training on their own which was annoying as the team still had lots to work on for our Team Pursuit race.  Time was not on our side, and we still weren’t going fast enough and needed more practice together. During this time, I continued to work part time and train. My ribs were hurting from the crash but I kept pushing on. My burns on my arms never had time to fully heal as I was always putting pressure on them during Team Pursuit training which made the scabs bleed all over again.

Coming into the last camp in August the team pursuit training was finally coming together. We started going faster and things were starting to look good. We also finally got to wear our NZ suits which felt amazing and everything was starting to feel more real. A few days before we were supposed to fly out a war had started in Israel with missiles going into the Gaza strip (not far from where we were staying.) This made us nervous as we thought the racing would be cancelled, but to our luck 3 days later there was a ceasefire and the racing was back on.

It was a 21-hour flight over to Tel Aviv. The difference in temperature was insane, 34 degrees, wow that’s hot. It was incredible to see the different cultures of the world and how different it is over there. Israel has an outside velodrome which is very different to what we train in NZ. This proved hard for us at the start with the wind blowing, we struggled to hold our lines and we couldn’t go as fast, but with time and practice we started getting it down.

During our time over there we had a Physio look after us. After going to see her about my sore back and ribs she concluded during my crash at the second camp I had cracked two of my ribs. After coming home and getting an x-ray I found out that was true.  The physio taped my ribs which did help to some extent.

On race day our team pursuit team qualified 5th place in the rankings which wasn’t the exact place we wanted to be. After that we had one more chance to make the bronze final, so we dug deep and qualified 4th place with our fastest time to date.  We were now in with a chance to get a bronze medal. After coming right down to the line, we brought it back from being 3 seconds down during the race and finishing 3rd in the end. This is an amazing achievement for the whole team involved. We are so proud of where we have come from to now.

My individual races did not go exactly to plan but I was pleased with my performance and valued the experience and knowledge I gained representing NZ and cycling Internationally.  Many lessons learnt during camp and race day to take forward for future racing Nationally and overseas.

None of this would have been possible without your help. This opportunity is one I’ll always be grateful to be a part of. I am now resting up and trying to let my ribs heal but will be back on the bike very soon. Thanks again for supporting me, it means so much.

Kyle Aitken          


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