Talented sprinter retires at 19
One of New Zealand cycling's most promising sprinters is walking away from the sport.
Tom Beadle, a fringe member of the BikeNZ men's sprint programme, has retired at the age of 19.
There are a number of reasons for the Southlander's decision, but the issues have been brought to a head by BikeNZ's shift to a new base at Cambridge.
Without the full financial support afforded to top riders in the programme, and with no qualifications behind him having finished college in year 12 to concentrate on his cycling, Beadle plans to work on a farm in Balfour.
"At the moment, just the way things are shaping up, with the move to Cambridge and my life situation, I think it's the way to go - to do something else for a while and earn some money," Beadle said.
"I've been [cycling] for 11 or 12 years, since I started racing at Kew Bowl when I was nine. I've had the last two or three years, they've been the best years of my life going away with teams overseas, but I'm going to take an extended break."
Beadle said he still had a passion for cycling, but he was unable to commit fully and believed that's what would be required if he was to continue riding.
Beadle spent six months in Europe with a six-strong BikeNZ men's sprint squad last year.
After a dramatic conversion from the BikeNZ junior endurance programme, Beadle finished fifth in the sprint and fourth in the New Zealand team sprint at the junior world championships in Invercargill in 2012.
After mulling over his decision for "a couple of months" Beadle said BikeNZ was disappointed but understanding of his decision.
BikeNZ high performance manager Mark Elliott said Beadle's retirement was regrettable.
"The reality is, if you are going to make a commitment to elite sport, especially the level our elite sprinters are at, it's 110 percent or not at all. I guess for Tom, he's got to want that," Elliott said.
"It's obviously regrettable because he's a great talent. We saw last year the way he grew with the team in Europe, he made some massive gains but one year these days does not make an athlete - it's a 10- year process."
Elliott was confident there were other young sprinters ready to take Beadle's place, with Invercargill's Jeremy Presbury - a double gold medallist at last year's Youth Olympics - likely to get more opportunities.
While New Zealand boasted a strong five-man group of elite male sprinters, there were opportunities for young riders to gain experience at international level.
"If we hadn't have had a scenario of a couple of guys crashing at those earlier World Cups, all those young guys - Jeremy Presbury, Tom Beadle etc - would have got a World Cup under their belt."
Meanwhile, the first major BikeNZ training camp at Cambridge's new velodrome starts ahead of the world championships beginning later this month in Colombia.
A 12-strong initial squad will be whittled down to the final group in the days before the team leaves on February 17.
- The Southland Times