Peloton Watch
  Olivia Podmore lines up at first elite World Championships with eye on Rio  
  March 1st 2016  
  Olivia Podmore in action at the International Track Series Adelaide in May 2015. © PelotonWatch  
  Olivia Podmore is preparing to take on the best in the world at the 2016 UCI Track World Championships as she targets selection in the New Zealand team for the Rio Olympic Games.

Having only stepped out of the junior ranks following silver in the team sprint and bronze in the 500m time trial at the Junior World Championships last August Podmore will make her elite debut at just 18. Her talent has been evident during a promising junior career that including nine New Zealand titles, four Oceania titles and two World Championship medals.

Following her junior success Podmore was invited to join New Zealand's track sprint programme in Cambridge. The move away from home and friends and family has not been without challenges as she settles in to a new environment.

A high speed jet ski crash at the end of 2015, something Podmore now realises she should have considered more carefully, nearly ended her hopes of competing at her first elite New Zealand Championships and making the team for the World Championships.

Podmore fought back to claim sprint bronze on day two of nationals after a frustrating first day that saw her finish fourth in the 500m time trial in 36.112secs well off her personal best. Before claiming silver in the team sprint silver on the final day.

Despite thinking worlds were off the table Podmore's performances gave selectors confidence to take her to the World Championships. Podmore hopes to repay selectors confidence with a strong showing as second wheel in the team sprint and put herself one step closer to her dream of competing at the Rio Olympics.

You claimed team sprint silver and 500m time trial bronze at the Junior World Championships last year what did that success mean to you?

To tick off not only one, but two junior world medals meant a great deal to me. It was hard not coming away with a rainbow jersey that I so badly wanted and trained so hard for; but I believe that has made me stronger as a person and left me hungry to win in the elite ranks.

Olivia Podmore (far left) on the podium at the 2015 Junior World Championships. © Kazakhstan Cycling Federation

Wrapped up your time as a junior as a New Zealand and Oceania Champion and World Championship medallist did that allow you to take confidence moving in to elite?

Elites is a brand new playing field, but coming into it with a strong junior background allowed me to move into the elites with confidence. It was a huge confidence boost for me just knowing that I was moving into elites and moving to Cambridge at the same time so it meant that I was going to begin my elite career in a high performance environment.

Moved to Cambridge to join the elite sprint squad how has it gone and what did it mean to join the team just out of juniors?

To be invited into the track sprint programme just out of juniors was quite overwhelming. I think because I knew how young I was and what a change it would be. So far I have learnt so much from being submerged in the high performance environment, but I also have found it challenging by not coming from a background of specific sprint training due to my love of road racing and training.

When was World Championship and Rio Olympics first discussed as goals to work towards this year?

When the offer to move and join the squad had arisen the possibility of these were discussed, which made me quite excited as I knew how young I was and what an opportunity I had.

Involved in a high speed jet ski crash what happened? What were your injuries?

The family and friends enjoy jet skiing but I had an accident. In hindsight, now that I am a fulltime athlete, I probably should not have been doing it. I was fortunate that the injury was just muscular and with the help of the Cycling New Zealand staff I was back on full training.

You have had a difficult start to 2016 with challenges on the bike but off the bike as well. You had moved to a new city on your own away from friends and family at 18 and broke up with your boyfriend. How have you dealt with the personal challenges you have faced?

As a young rider to move from home to the centralised base is both exciting and daunting, especially leaving your friends and family behind. The change is not easy but I want to be a successful Olympic athlete. That's something only a few get the opportunity to realise. That is my focus and I know that I must make sacrifices to get there.

Olivia Podmore in action in the keirin at 2015 ITS Adelaide. © PelotonWatch

Injury interrupted your preparation for Nationals what was your preparation like and how were you feeling heading in?

After my accident I didn't even think I was going to see the start line at nationals, so I was happy a week out knowing the times I was doing. Preparation was messy as a week back into training I reinjured my ribs so it was a further setback, something I definitely didn't need but had to adapt and deal with.

Fourth in the 500m time trial on the opening day a disappointing result for you how did the race go?

This 500 was the first race in my life that I felt nothing, I couldn't judge the pace or pain. Felt like my worst nightmare if I'm quite honest! Looking up at the clock I knew I couldn't be angry or upset due to my build up, I felt like I didn't rise to the occasion, which frustrated me.

Bounced back on day two claiming bronze in the sprint your first elite medal. Happy with your races and what did it mean to stand on the podium?

I was very happy with my bronze ride off match sprints against Katie [Schofield], I believe I rode them tactically well and to my advantage. I was chuffed to be back up on the podium even it was just for bronze.

Wrapped up your first elite Track Nationals with silver in the team sprint. Overall how did you find Nationals?

Nationals were something I had to just get done, despite my past months lead in. I found it hard being so young and having little experience compared to the other girls, so was a good learning curve.

Your goal was to be selected in the team for the World Championships after Nationals did you still think that would happen?

After the way my form was looking to the outside eye and the way I was feeling I didn't think that worlds was even going to be on the cards, so when I was notified I was overwhelmed because I didn't think it would be happening

What does it mean to be selected for your first Elite Track World Championships squad? Does doing it as a first year make it even more special?

For me it means that I know my career is heading in the right direction and also knowing I'm getting the right development and learning at the early stages of my career. Being a first year I believe does make it more special, but also comes with the challenge of really having to step up the mark and perform even if I am only 18.

Heading in to Worlds what are your goals and what do you think the biggest challenges will be?

As I am only riding in the team sprint I would like to execute a clean change and a fast second lap to ensure we are within the top 6. I believe everything on a campaign from travel to racing is only as challenging as you make it, so for me taking things step at a time and following the process will be key.

Looking further ahead to Rio making the team there is obviously a big goal for this year how are you feeling about that? Being selected for World championships obviously a big step in the right direction?

Rio is a huge goal of mine, and making the worlds team for me I believe is a step in the right direction. So I'm excited to see how worlds goes and training for next few months leading in to push for my spot in the team for Rio.
 © 2016