All eyes were on the Avantidrome track on Friday evening as a crowd of 350 supporters cheered on Jaime Nielsen in the one-hour cycle challenge.
The Rio Olympic cyclist and Cambridge local was attempting to beat the sea level world record for an hour-long ride around a velodrome track – set at 46.882km by Australian Bridie O’Donnell – and faced the daunting task of completing at least 188 laps of the 250m track.
“I am so happy it’s over, it was such a challenge,” Nielsen said after finishing with a total of 47.791kms, 909m more than the sea level record set early last year.
“I knew it was realistic to get the sea-level mark. It came down to counting the laps and at one stage I was counting half laps… There were feelings that I had to overcome and I think the crowd helped me get through in the end.
“I had little patches when the pain would build up but it was a matter of refreshing and getting back into my rhythm.”
Nielsen said she would love to give it another shot, but, “At this stage I am glad it’s over!”
“I am stoked and I am satisfied. I know I gave it all I can,” said Nielsen, who was only 189m off the current world record set at altitude in Colorado Springs last year by American Evelyn Stevens.
The 31 year old set a steady pace throughout the one hour ride at the Avantidrome, reaching 23.740km at the halfway mark and 35.80kms at 45 minutes. As the “burn” really started to kick in, a surge of support from the crowd pushed Nielsen through the pain barrier to top O’Donnell’s mark and finish with 47.791kms.
“I didn’t know how my body would respond over the full duration, but I was fearless in giving it everything I had. That satisfaction defines my happiness in sport,” Jaime said. “It was exciting to have the opportunity to venture into that unknown and learn what I could do. And it was so empowering to share it with my friends and family!”
Jaime would like to do the record attempt again, and said she would keep her Facebook page, Jaime Nielsen Cyclist, updated on coming events.
“I would like to thank Cycling NZ and my support team, family, friends, and our local Spoken Cycles and Vetora Cambridge,” said Jaime. “Also to all who encouraged me on the night, whether at the stadium or through a computer screen. Thank you for an awesome sporting memory!”
Nielsen will head to Europe in the coming weeks and hopes to gain selection for the UCI road world championships in the time trial, before returning to New Zealand to get back on the track in the bid to gain selection for next year’s Commonwealth Games.
By Sophie Iremonger