Cooper returns to competition with confidence

Southland cyclist Sequoia Cooper has closed one chapter of her life and is about to embark on the next one.

Cooper, 22, has completed a physiotherapy degree after four years in Dunedin and is ready to refocus on her cycling ambitions.

"Now that I'm finished uni, I want to make cycling a priority and I really want to establish myself as a member of the women's endurance programme, be taken away to the key events . . . eventually to Commonwealth Games and the ultimate goal would be the Olympics," she said.

Cooper was a national champion on the road and track as a junior, as well as a silver medallist in the teams pursuit at the world junior track championship in 2008.

While she has remained in the saddle, her focus has been on studies and ensuring she does not miss out on university experiences.

"With the social side, there were definitely times when the cycling went by the wayside. That was important because you don't want to miss out on that stuff. It's part of going to uni," Cooper said.

"In the first year, I thought I was pretty good doing 20 minutes on the rollers and I did dabble a bit in the bunch rides in Dunedin.

"In the second year, when Ross [Machejefski] took over and I got things like SRM, it was a lot more structured. I did everything I would have done down here."

Cooper will reignite her career in Adelaide when she represents New Zealand at the Oceania track championships from November 28 to December 1.

She said was pleased she had got a qualification before concentrating on the bike.

"I guess there wasn't the established squad that there is now; there wasn't a goal for me to get into a women's endurance programme because there wasn't one there. It was an easy decision to have a gap year and then carry on to uni. It was an easy decision and a good one."

Cooper starts a part-time role with Invercargill-based Sportsmed next year.

The Southland Times