Fracture no impediment to cyclist
Southland cyclist Nick Kergozou will get his first taste of the big time at this week's national elite track championships in Invercargill.
While his year-12 class-mates at Southland Boys' High School are trying to adjust from holiday mode to their first week of a new school year, the 16-year-old will be chasing medals in the under-19 grade from tomorrow through to Sunday.
It's a big step up for the first year junior who hopes to impress the BikeNZ selectors and gain a place in the New Zealand team for the world junior championships being staged in Glasgow later this year.
"You get to get all the good gear, like disc wheels and stuff. You can feel the difference. I've been coping with the [step up] fine and I'll just take it as it comes."
Kergozou, whose surname has French origins, had a promising year in 2012 when he dominated his peers at the Southland championships, had five top-four placings at the national age group championships and was the second-fastest and fastest New Zealander for the flying lap in the omnium at the Oceania Championships. Victory in the local Baxter and Neilson series for juniors meant he is racing on sponsored wheels this season.
However, that Oceania event in Adelaide had a painful end when he crashed trying to promote himself from fourth wheel in the keirin and broke his right collar bone. The fracture is yet to heal and may require surgery if it doesn't correct itself, but it hasn't kept him off the bike.
"We went to the hospital and had it x-rayed. It hasn't healed, but I'm riding all right at the moment and the coaches are happy."
Kergozou was introduced to cycling by local coach and commentator Julian Ineson.
"He was my school teacher and he would take the whole year-six class down the track once a year. I was going all right so he got me into it."
A group of half a dozen or so like-minded Otatara natives have continued in the sport on the road and track.
Kergozou, who is now riding a track bike formerly owned by New Zealand Paralympic representative Chris Ross, will line up in the scratch, individual pursuit and ride second wheel with Anton O'Connell and Jeremy Presbury in the Southland under 19 team sprint squad.
- The Southland Times