Our riders aiming for gold in Israel

Last week we reported fundraising had started to get six Cambridge area cyclists to Israel next month for the Junior World Track Championships.

Today we look at the six athletes who have been selected.

Jaxson Russell is a year 13 Cambridge High School student who was selected for the 2021 Junior World Sprints Team which did not travel because of Covid.

His resume includes being part of the record-holding Under-19 men’s sprint team and he holds the U17 Men’s Flying 200 record.

Luke Blackwood is a year 13 St Peter’s School named in the national development track squad.

Having competed at a national level in triathlon and duathlon in his early teenage years, and after winning national U16 duathlon champs in 2019, he moved his focus to road and then in 2020 to road & track cycling.

Last year as a first year U19 rider he was selected for the national development track squad for endurance and had never really considered sprinting, until Jason Russell (Jaxson’s dad and a cycling coach) suggested he give it a try this February.

With nationals (the selection event for junior worlds) only six weeks away Luke made a temporary move to Cambridge to do a ‘crash course’ in sprinting with the help of Jason and elite sprint cyclist, Shaane Fulton. Proving it was all worthwhile, at the nationals he podiumed in multiple sprint events and set a record for the U19 Men Flying 200m.

Liam Cavanagh is in his first year at Waikato University and is the national U19 Men’s sprint champion. He has also been selected for the    national development track squad.

Lewis Johnston is in year 13 at St Peter’s School. He is a road and track cyclist who captains an academy for track and road and rides for the Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club.

Has been cycling for seven years starting in year 7 when he was 11 years old as a cross country mountain biker then moved to the track.   He quit track to take road cycling seriously when he was a first year U17 rider. Later into his second year as an U17 rider, he started to get coaching from Waipā’s Mike Davis who convinced him to get back into track cycling.   He has moved his ranking from top 25 in track events to the top five.

Kyle Aitken is a Cambridge High School leaver 2021 who was another selected for Junior Worlds Endurance Team last year, when the team did not attend because of Covid.

He started track cycling in December 2018 after watching his uncle race for gold at the World Masters Games.  There have been a few ups and downs along the way, but the biggest one was when he crashed during a Madison training and suffered a bad concussion, taking him out of cycling for over eight weeks.

Oliver Watson-Palmer is a St Peters School leaver who was an avid runner and competed in triathlons, trampolining and athletics before turning to cycling.

He has experience of riding in Europe and is the elite Under 19 Team pursuit national champion 2022 and won the national track series.His short term goal is to win a medal at the junior world track championships and continue on a pathway to becoming a professional cyclist.

It’s up to each rider to fund their way to Israel and they have embarked on team projects as they seeks to raise about $16,500 each.

A third training camp for the group will be held in Cambridge this month and the team heads to Israel on August 14.

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