Multi-world age group champions Jessie Smith and Cailen Calkin, both from the Waikato, are part of the five-strong New Zealand cycling team to compete at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.

The athletes will compete in the 13-day Games at Buenos Aires from 6-18 October in a team comprising BMX, mountain bike and road riders.

Smith was the 16 years BMX world champion in 2017 and ninth in her first year as a junior elite in 2018.

Calkin, a three-time Challenge world champion, was a quarterfinalist in the junior elite (under-19) category this year.

At the Youth Olympic Games the pair will compete in the BMX racing against other riders of the same sex, with their results to be combined as medals are awarded to the team with the most points.

The pair are joined by three mountain-bike riders (who also have road experience), Samara (Sammie) Maxwell (Taupo), Phoebe Young (Wanaka) and Max Taylor (Palmerston North).

Maxwell is the national under-19 mountain bike champion while Young is the Oceania under-19 winner and also New Zealand under-19 road time trial champion.

Taylor, the 2017 under-17 mountain bike champion, has also enjoyed success as a road rider.

The mountain bike/road riders will race in a criterium, time trial and road race (road cycling) with an eliminator and short track races for mountain bike.

Maxwell and Young will compete as a team in the female division. In the male division Taylor will compete alongside Calkin.

“The Youth Olympic Games is an important international stage for our young riders to experience the Olympic values and to both experience and understand the challenges of a vast multisport global competition,” said Cycling New Zealand HP Athlete Development Lead, Graeme Hunn.

Phoebe Young (right) celebrates her silver medal alongside Sarah Gigante (left) and Anya Louw at the Oceania championships, photo Caitlin Johnston

“The International Olympic Committee continue to use this competition to incorporate fresh ideas and new sports, several of which have flowed through to international and Olympic events.”

“This time we believe the competitions are really beneficial to our developing riders and we have selected a strong group of outstanding young people who we believe will acquit themselves well in and out of competition.”

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to the athletes.  “Well done to all of these athletes for all the hard work they’ve put in to make it to this point,” Smith said.  “New Zealand has an extremely proud cycling history at both Olympic and Commonwealth Games level and we look forward to these athletes becoming part of that legacy.”

The 2018 Youth Olympic Games will be the third edition of the summer youth Games. The Games are a pre-elite development opportunity for the world’s most promising young athletes, allowing them to experience a multi-sport games environment while exposing them to learning and cultural opportunities and helping them on the performance pathway.

 

The team is:

BMX: Jessie Smith (Hamilton), Cailen Calkin (Hamilton). Non-travelling reserves: Luey Cotton (Kapiti), Baylee Luttrell (Hamilton).

Mountain Bike-Road: Sammie Maxwell (Taupo), Phoebe Young (Wanaka), Max Taylor (Palmerston North) and Cailen Calkin.

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