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Pedalling a healthy message across the world

Pedalling a healthy message across the world

1. Your family has always had a good sporting background but could you tell us about the pathway that lead you into cycling?

Before I became a full-fledged cyclist, I did triathlon. Before that, I was a competitive swimmer and participated in club athletics. I first got introduced to cycling and triathlon when one of my teachers approached me after swimming sports one day. That teacher was Rick Faulding, who was the first New Zealander to finish the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Mr. Faulding suggested I try out triathlon, but at that time of year, it was cycling season. So I started cycling at age 11 and the next year began my first triathlon season. I thoroughly enjoyed triathlon for a few years, probably more than individual cycling. I believe this occurred because I enjoyed the difficulty of trying to manage training for the three sports instead of just one. After attending Team Novo Nordisk’s Talent ID camp back in 2014, I started to appreciate cycling a little more and understanding what a beautiful, but difficult sport that it is. I am now fully motivated to improve and appreciate all the support Team Novo Nordisk provides me.


2. Being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 12, how did your diagnosis come about and how did you deal with the news?

I can't exactly remember how it all started, but I remember feeling thirsty, and no matter what I did, I couldn't manage to quench that thirst. Eventually, it got to the point where I was going back and forth from the bathroom every five minutes because of all the water I was drinking. My general practitioner had me do a finger prick to check my blood sugar and took a urine sample. They determined that I may have type 1 diabetes. I didn't real know what to think at the time, but with the support of my family, I began to better understand type 1 diabetes, which helped me accept my condition.


3. One of main concerns in New Zealand for clinicians working with diabetics is that young people really don't take their condition seriously enough and fail to look after themselves properly. As a young person yourself, how do you deal with managing your diabetes and how does that impact on your social life?

I've been living with type 1 diabetes almost six years now, and I can honestly say that I see it as just one more thing that I need to do each day to be healthy, just like training and eating the right foods. I've never put much thought into how my social life changed after being diagnosed. But if I had to compare my life before diabetes and after my diagnosis, I'd say my circle of friends has grown since my diagnosis. I've met more people through cycling and Team Novo Nordisk. Some have type 1 diabetes, some don’t. I like to think my diagnosis had a positive impact on my social life.


4. What lead you to riding with Team Novo Nordisk?

I attended my first talent ID camp in August 2014. These are camps that Team Novo Nordisk hosts twice a year. They invite endurance athletes with type 1 diabetes from around the world to Atlanta, Georgia. From there, the best athletes are invited to join the junior, development or men’s pro team. I didn't expect too much as I was more interested in triathlon at the time. After being accepted into the junior team for the following year, I began to train for cycling a lot more. After two years on the junior team, I started to enjoy cycling as much and maybe even more than I enjoyed triathlon. Team Novo Nordisk offered me a great opportunity, which I couldn't refuse. With them, I have a chance to see how far I can go with my cycling.


5. What is your daily schedule like? 

I'd say my daily schedule isn't much different from that of any other cyclist or athlete except for also managing my diabetes. I wake up, check my blood sugars first thing, have breakfast and then set off on my first training for the day. Our Team Novo Nordisk coaches determine our training schedules. After that, I prepare my post ride meal and try to take a short nap. Depending on the day and the training, I wake up, do another easier training session to recover from the last and then eat dinner, stretch and go to sleep. Repeat the next day.


6. How big was the cultural impact as a Maori moving to Europe/US/wherever you are relocating to?

I will be living mainly in Athens, Georgia (USA) for most of the year and back home in Auckland during breaks and the off-season. For me, I’m excited about the cultural changes because there are so many cultures within Team Novo Nordisk that I will get to learn from. Riders and staff on Team Novo Nordisk are from all over the globe, including Europeans, Americans, Australians, Russians, etc. Together we make up Team Novo Nordisk, and we aim to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes around the world.


7. What do you miss most about New Zealand?

One thing I've learned from my travels is that there is no place I'd rather be than home in New Zealand. Sure, I've seen some incredible places and met interesting people, but you can't beat the feeling of seeing home after being away for a long time.


8. What do you love most about your new home?

I haven’t seen the new home yet. This is our first year in this particular house where my teammates and I will be living for most of the year. I’m really excited for the opportunity to train and race for Team Novo Nordisk in the United States and wherever else it may take me.


9. You recently returned home over Christmas and spent time visiting whānau marae with your family. Where did you visit and how was the experience?

year, I was away from home since late May. I returned at the end of September. It was great being able to relax and reconnect with family and friends. I went down south to my marae in Tauranga for my day off on New Year’s Day. We have an annual touch tournament every with the family as a sort of reunion. The experience helped me rest my mind and body, so I can refocus on my goals for 2017.


10. What are your cycling ambitions for the future? Where to from here?

I want to see how far I can progress in cycling and to follow the mission of Team Novo Nordisk to educate, inspire and empower people living with diabetes. I want them to see what may be possible with diabetes and keep chasing their dreams.