Rebecca’s Tokyo bound 

Rebecca Petch says her Olympic call was ‘surreal’.

Te Awamutu BMX rider Rebecca Petch has fulfilled a lifelong dream after receiving a call that she will be competing at next month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The phone call from the New Zealand Olympic Committee informing the 23-year-old that she had the BMX spot as part of the 19-strong New Zealand cycling team ahead of fellow Waipā rider Sarah Walker of Cambridge was “surreal”.

“I was pretty excited. I was home alone and got the call saying I was going to Tokyo – it felt a bit surreal.”

For Rebecca, who works as an authorised officer in Waikato, the achievement is a culmination of the past five years.

She has been riding BMX since she was three years old, following in the footsteps of her brother Cameron. As a teenager she competed in the junior elite category – racing Oceania competitions – and then on to the Elite category competing in World Cups, achieving final and semi-final spots.

“Since then, I’ve just never looked back. I’ve learnt a lot in those years, and it’s got me to where I am now, overcoming the highs and lows.”

She has headed off to Australia this week for two weeks to train on a similar track to the one she will face in Tokyo. Then it is back to the Waikato before heading off to Japan with the New Zealand team at the end of July.

Rebecca is on the pathway to becoming a police officer. She joined the recruiting process and recently took up a role as an authorised officer to experience the policing environment before college.

“I have always wanted to join (the) police. I also wanted to go for the Paris Olympics [in 2024] but didn’t want to put my career aspirations on hold – so I thought why not do both?”

She balances work and training twice a day, most days at the track in Cambridge and at her home club in Te Awamutu, as well as training in the high-performance gym at the Avantidrome.

Heading to Tokyo, Rebecca is expecting a tough field of 24 women at the top of their game internationally.

“It’s not going to be easy but it’s a good challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”

Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director Martin Barras said that due to restrictions last year it has been a tough for those in the BMX programme.

“It has been a challenging time for BMX, with its expansive international travel schedule derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and New Zealand’s leading female riders not racing the UCI Supercross since early 2020 in Australia,” he said.

“However, Rebecca Petch showed she is of international quality and importantly has the potential to develop into even more of a contender for the future.”

Caption: Rebecca Petch has been named in the 19-strong New Zealand cycling team heading to this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

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