New Zealand’s Foy and Fairweather paired for success

New Zealand’s high-performance para-cycling programme is launching new medallists every year. 28 May 2014
Athletes pose for a podium shot.

New Zealand won five total medals at the 2014 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

ⒸParalympics New Zealand
By Poppy Penny | For the IPC

“We base nearly all of our training around the pursuit, and so their medal in the sprints was a bonus, and probably a surprising bonus.”

New Zealand female tandem cyclists, Emma Foy and Laura Fairweather, have their sights set on the August’s UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in the USA after bringing home two medals from April’s Track World Championships in Mexico.

The New Zealand team brought home a total of five medals, four of which came from the tandem teams.

The remarkable thing about Foy, 25, and Fairweather, 26, is not just the impact they have made on the international scene with a gold medal in the women’s tandem B 3km pursuit and a bronze medal in the tandem B sprint in Mexico, but rather that they are based on different sides of New Zealand and were only paired together in December 2013.

These medals also came in two very different events using two very different energy systems – one requires endurance and the other requires explosive power over a short distance – making these two medals even more of a triumph.

New Zealand high-performance programme

Leading up to the Track World Championships Foy and Fairweather attended a number of training camps, including an altitude camp, to prepare for the testing conditions in Mexico. Foy, who has been in the high performance programme since 2013, said the heat and altitude in Mexico made this an extremely demanding competition.

“We had several training camps including two weeks at an altitude camp,” Foy said. “We also had simulated altitude lab sessions incorporated into our training plans.”

These camps allowed the girls to train together, something that had been rarely possible for their brief time as a tandem team in the high-performance programme.

New Zealand head coach Brendon Cameron said that in the lead up to a competition such as the World Championships the training load intensifies to ready the pair for vigorous competition.

Cameron has been involved with Paralympics New Zealand full-time since 2012 and now coaches all three of their tandem cyclists. He invests a lot of time with each athlete in an effort to guide him or her into an event that will suit their strengths. This approach can help to pair athletes into tandem teams, and the success of Foy and Fairweather so early into their pairing supports this method.

The New Zealand para-cycling team currently has three tandem teams, which Cameron said helps him to track athlete’s performances and progress alongside their peers.

“We base nearly all of our training around the pursuit, and so their medal in the sprints was a bonus, and probably a surprising bonus,” he said.

A customised programme

When it comes to the training regimes of each individual athlete, Cameron believes in the importance of developing each athlete on a personal level.

To have the bike moving at the fastest possible speed he uses a stationary bike to monitor their power and set goals that suit each individual athlete’s progression.

This customised training programme allows Cameron to get the most out of athletes such as Foy and Fairweather both on the training track and in competition.

Foy and Fairweather are now looking toward the 25km time trial at the Road World Championships – which run from 29 August - 1 September in Greenville, USA – to continue their international success.

Their immediate success speaks volumes about the training programme New Zealand have in place, and Foy and Fairweather are hoping their partnership will take that programme to the next level.