Teen motocross star battled heart condition
Trent Haywood's father was supposed to return home with his triumphant son brandishing yet another motocross accolade.
Instead, Derek Haywood yesterday arrived back in Tauranga with just his son's trophy.
Fourteen-year-old Trent was killed on Saturday after launching off a 30-metre jump at the Godfrey Memorial Motocross event at a farm in Waipara, North Canterbury.
He was running second in the race and was first overall in the junior 14-16, 250cc event going into it.
The event was cancelled after the accident, leaving the popular teen to claim the title posthumously. The prizemoney for the cancelled races would be donated to the family.
Speaking from her Tauranga home, Deanna Haywood said coming to terms with the loss of her son would be a "long process".
"Trent was just so humble and just a man of few words. I know it sounds a bit silly but he was just the perfect child," she said.
Trent had taken up motocross when he was 5 years old. From the moment he tried he was "into it every weekend".
"That was his life, he didn't want anything else. But he really did have to work at it," Haywood said.
"We knew we had to support him 100 per cent."
While the gifted youngster seemed to dominate motocross events with ease for most of his budding career, he had done so against the odds.
Trent suffered undiagnosed health issues from birth, with his condition being treated as sports-induced asthma for the first decade of his life.
It was not until he nearly collapsed during a race, when he was 11, that an ambulance officer suggested he be tested for supraventricular tachycardia - a condition that causes the heart to beat abnormally fast.
"His heart would just go up to 200 beats a minute," Haywood said.
"We were completely shocked after all that time to find out then that he had a heart disease."
He underwent major heart surgery in 2012.
The surgery fixed his heart, but he continued to suffer from "drop attacks".
He continued to see a physiotherapist for the breathing problems which accompanied his heart condition.
But Trent would still not give up motocross.
"That was it after that - I could never watch his races, I was too nerve-racked.
"I was always apprehensive, but I loved the fact that he loved it so much."
The attacks sometimes occurred during racing but he assured his mother he had "a couple of seconds warning" before they happened.
Haywood said while they do not know what caused her son to crash on Saturday, she had been told it was unlikely to have been related to his heart condition.
Trent's involvement with the motocross community gave him the confidence and friends he had struggled to find, she said.
His girlfriend of six months, Georgia Edwards, was also a motocross rider.
Haywood said her husband and Trent's brother Brad, 13, who both accompanied him to most events, would be "completely lost" without him. In a cruel twist of fate, the last thing Haywood can recall saying to her son is light-heartedly reminding him about a text from his racing mentor.
"He had said ‘If you're not comfortable, you've got to go back a notch even if it's costing you a place'. Trent just turned around to me and he said ‘You really think I'm going to button off'?"
She believed he would have followed his passion to take on the sport professionally.
Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan said the year 10 student was well-liked and would be missed by teachers, staff and students alike.
Trent had recently led Tauranga Boys' College to victory in a local Waikato motocross event.
"He was a good student. He did all that was expected of him in the classroom but ultimately he lived for motocross."