Max Williams has not lost his desire to compete at cycling’s highest level, but the lockdown did give him the time to focus on his other goal – to achieve University Entrance.
The 17-year-old has already carved out a name for himself, making the New Zealand u19 Oceania Track team for the past two years, and earning a number of accolades.
In his final year at St. John’s College, he has his sight set on passing the year and gaining University Entrance – although he doesn’t plan on using it, before “making something” out of his passion.
Having competed at track nationals in Cambridge, and narrowly missing out on world’s selection earlier in the year, he had taken a break and was building up for age group road nationals in April before lockdown came and events were postponed.
“It’s been like a really big mental and physical focus to make that team and I just missed out really by nothing so it was a bit gutting.
“I had made a decision prior to that that I wasn’t going to go overseas this year, just to get (NCEA) level three out of the way and then next year go again. So, it has been good how it all panned out.”
Keen on keeping active and the outdoors, Max started getting into Triathalons in Intermediate.
“I was quite a good runner, I disliked swimming and I was quite good on the bike. One of my teachers just invited me to come to a national schools race and I finished around the top 10.”
“I decided to get a coach and it took off from there.”
He found his passion on the track and has been “hunting for that world’s selection ever since”, with Coach and Cycling New Zealand’s lead team mechanic Ben Rowell by his side.
“I love the track and road but there’s something about the track, it’s really fast and you have to make quick decisions, and it’s cool to watch. “
Although, it is no surprise Max loves the thrill of racing.
“In everything I do, I just push myself to the max whether it’s doing an assessment, running or swimming, or whatever, I just always go to the max so things like time trials on the track and that suits me perfectly as a person because I can just go.”
He was “fortunate” that he didn’t have “too much planned when COVID hit” so he could re-think and focus on what he wanted to achieve.
The beauty of having an erg (indoor trainer), and virtual competitions, meant he was able to continue training anywhere from 6-10 hours a week and challenge himself by competing with people all over the world from the comfort of his home.
“It was pretty hard racing – you don’t know the age group you’re riding in, or anything so it is good
to test yourself against other people.”
With nothing coming up at the time, he was able to reduce his training and focus on “getting fit”.
“I didn’t have to panic thinking there were events that were coming up that were important.”
Now he is back “in full swing” training for road nationals”.
“It will be the first big event back for everyone so I’m just going to try and do that and then after that try and re-evaluate.”
But with everything changing due to the current pandemic, and international racing off the cards for the meantime, he says it comes down to “what I want to do”.
But above all else, he is most looking forward to when international travel opens up again.
“I’m keen to get back over to China, Europe, or America and just get my name out there and get on the track.”
Next year, he plans on getting a job while he focuses on making cycling a career, travelling between Hawke’s Bay and Cambridge.
“I’m just going to try and pursue my cycling for as long as I can because it is such a short window, either making the national team or I will go overseas when I can whether it is racing on my mountain bike, road bike, or track bike.
“That’s my plan and then after that, I would like to come and do my building apprenticeship maybe in 10 years or so, however long my cycling lasts.”
ON TRACK: St. John’s College student Max Williams pictured at the 2020 National Track Championships held in Cambridge. Photo / Concept 78