From destroying the field at the REV Cycle Race, to winning two rounds of the Dynamo Team Championship, one of which saw her take on the strength of Cycling New Zealand’s national team, Amelia Watkinson has been a phenomena this season. We decided it was time that we knew a little bit more about her.
RC: Where did sport start for you?
Amelia: I got paid to take the neighbour’s dog for a walk, the energy levels of the dog meant it was easier to run. I was already fit from being fully involved in all the team sports available. This unintentional training seemed to give me the extra gains I needed and I started doing well in school cross country races and competitive sport started from there.
RC: Was triathlon an immediate thing or did it gradually progress and develop?
Amelia: At 16 Jo Lawn (10xIronman champ) moved in down the road and I took an interest in them going past every day on the bike or running. I used to invite myself around for daily chats, soon they persuaded me to buy my first bike. I was lucky that cycling was a big sport at school, we had 20 girls turning up to 3 training sessions a week and once I learnt to clip in and out (which took me a good six months) I was able to do my first triathlon.
RC: You are forging a career as a professional triathlete. What are the challenges of having to be excellent at three disciplines?
Amelia: Yes half Ironman distance triathlon (1.9km swim, 90km bike ,21.1km run) is where my aspirations lie. I’ll be racing Asia Pacific Championships in August this year and hope to podium at the World Championships in Tennessee 2017.
I like the aspect of having 3 disciplines to train for, it adds variety and an element of cross training. There’s only so many hours of training you can do and it’s difficult to get in the key workouts across all 3 disciplines so unfortunately one of the disciplines has to slip into maintenance mode at different times throughout the year and this is often dictated by injury.
RC: What do you love about the sport?
Amelia: I love the challenge you get from it both mentally and physically. For me it’s great thinking time, when I was studying I would always come up with my best ideas on the bike. I love the fatigued feeling after a key workout and that breakfast always tastes better after an early morning swim.
RC: Why did you decide to race on the road in 2016?
Amelia: I was carrying a hip injury which forced me to ease up on the running. This gave me a chance to work on my biking and as the triathlon race calendar was quite light at this time of year I took the opportunity to give the domestic cycling scene ago to keep me mentally in the game and racing.
RC: Is your tendency to go for a long-range solo attack a reflection of your natural time trialling ability from triathlon?
Amelia: Yes definitely. I lack the explosive speed for a sprint finish and although people say you can train it, the TT style finish is better training for my triathlon career.
RC: What have you enjoyed about the experience of racing some of New Zealand’s best in cycling this year?
Amelia: It’s a great change of scenery. It’s nice being able to turn up on race day with no expectation, race with some of New Zealand’s most accomplished cyclists and be competitive amongst them. I have also improved my bike handling skills. Now I can take my hands off the handle bars!
RC: What would success look like when the time comes to retire?
Amelia: That’s a hard question. Hopefully that’s a long way away! In triathlon I would love to be on the podium at Ironman World Champs in Kona. If I can achieve that in a timely fashion I wouldn’t mind giving road cycling a go.
Photo: Bob’s Bikes