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Cath Cheatley finds a new path in cycling
Jun 15th, 12. Former NZ Road Champion Cath Cheatley, who suffered serious injuries from a crash last year, has put the brakes on her international career but will take up a new role in cycling.
The 29-year-old from Wanganui harboured hopes of returning to the sport to qualify for the London Olympics after suffering multiple fractures to her hip in a crash while competing in the Taranaki's 100th Anniversary of the Round the Mountain ride in October.
Cheatley faced rehabilitation from surgery after shattering her acetabulum and top of the hip. Despite good progress and a return to cycling, she has been unable to make sufficient gains to be a competitive international cyclist again.
"When the numbness didn't leave and I couldn't get the power through the leg, I just had to be realistic that not only was London out of the question, but riding competitively again is a long shot," Cheatley said.
"I put all of my energy into rehab in the hope I might make it but I needed a miracle to reach top form and push for a medal in London. The reality is that I have the rest of my life to live with family and friends and I can't risk it all on one race. I just hope the good feeling I had about London will transfer to my husband's track team."
"I can ride my bike but I can't generate the power I need to go fast. What I like about cycling is racing and I really do miss it. You don't know how much you love something until you can't do it."
The Beijing Olympian will not be lost to the sport, however. She is taking up a fulltime role as one of BikeNZ's regional development coordinators.
With her husband Dayle, currently BikeNZ's women's endurance track coach, moving to the sport's new base at the Avantidrome in Cambridge next year, Cheatley has taken up a new role in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty region.
"After making the tough decision on my competitive career, with the amazing support from my family, I saw this position advertised and thought maybe it was meant to be. Now I have the opportunity to encourage and help others to enjoy the sport that I love so much."
Cheatley is one of the country's most successful female riders. A professional in the USA since 2008, she won a bronze medal in the points race at the 2007 World Track Championships and finished in the Top10 on the road at the 2009 World Championships in Italy and 11th the following year in Australia.
She was crowned the 2010 US National Road Series champion and is a three time winner of the NZ Road Champion title.
She competed in the Beijing Olympics and the Melbourne and Delhi Commonwealth Games and her international victories included the Tour of Wellington in 2006, the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic overall, stages at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, Cascade Tour and Tour of Gila as well as the Altoona Criterium during her outstanding 2010 season.
"This new role is quite exciting and will definitely provide me with a different type of challenge."
While lost to the elite end of the sport as a rider, BikeNZ is delighted to have enticed Cheatley to its administrative ranks.
In this role, her focus will be on coordinating linkage between schools, clubs, centres and other pathways with the ultimate goal to grow cycling in the region.
"Cycling is getting bigger and bigger. It has so many health benefits and at the top end New Zealand is doing well across all the disciplines of the sport. We have the people, terrain and conditions for cycling to be a huge sport in terms of participation and recreation as well as high performance," said Cheatley.
"It's a positive step forward with the Home of Cycling becoming a hub for our sport and I want to be part of that."
Cheatley has taken up her position, although she will take time out to head to the USA later this month to assist with the preparations in Pennsylvania for the BikeNZ junior endurance track squad as they prepare for August's UCI Junior Track World Championships in Invercargill.
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