Former Olympic cyclist Cath Cheatley has called a halt to her international career and has taken up a role in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty region.
The 29-year-old from Whanganui suffered serious injuries in a crash last year, but will not be lost to the sport, as she takes up a fulltime role as one of BikeNZ's regional development co-ordinators.
Cheatley had harboured hopes of qualifying for the London Olympics despite suffering multiple fractures to her hip in last October's crash when racing in Taranaki.
She made good progress and returned to cycling, but has been unable to make sufficient gains to be competitive internationally again.
"When the numbness didn't leave and I couldn't get the power through the leg, I just had to be realistic that not only was London out of the question, but riding competitively again is a long shot," Cheatley said.
"The reality is that I have the rest of my life to live with family and friends and I can't risk it all on one race.
"I can ride my bike but I can't generate the power I need to go fast. What I like about cycling is racing and I really do miss it. You don't know how much you love something until you can't do it."
Cheatley's husband, Dayle, BikeNZ's women's endurance track coach, is moving to the sport's new base at the Avantidrome in Cambridge next year, in a move which will work out great for both him and Cath.
"I saw this [development] position advertised and thought maybe it was meant to be," she said.
"Now I have the opportunity to encourage and help others to enjoy the sport that I love so much."
Her focus will be on co-ordinating schools, clubs, centres and other pathways with the aim of increasing cycling in the region.
"It's great to see an athlete of Cath's calibre have such a desire to give back to the sport," said BikeNZ development manager Amy Taylor.
"She is extremely passionate about sharing her knowledge and getting others involved in cycling."
Cheatley is one of the country's most successful female riders.
A professional in the United States since 2008, she won a bronze medal in the points race at the 2007 world track championships and finished in the top 10 on the road at the 2009 world championships in Italy. She was crowned the 2010 US National Road Series champion and is a three-time winner of the national road title.
Cheatley competed at the Beijing Olympics and the Melbourne and Delhi Commonwealth Games and her international victories included the Tour of Wellington in 2006, the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic overall, stages at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, Cascade Tour and Tour of Gila, as well as the Altoona Criterium during her outstanding 2010 season.
"This new role is quite exciting and will definitely provide me with a different type of challenge," she said.
"Cycling is getting bigger and bigger. It has so many health benefits and at the top end New Zealand is doing well across all the disciplines of the sport. We have the people, terrain and conditions for cycling to be a huge sport in terms of participation and recreation as well as high performance.
"It's a positive step forward with the Home of Cycling becoming a hub for our sport and I want to be part of that."
- © Fairfax NZ News