Avantidrome Athlete Profile: Steph McKenzie

National Track Cycling Championships 2015

Here at the Avantidrome we service approximately 50% of New Zealand’s carded athletes, which means the likelihood of spotting a top athlete when you’re visiting the

Avantidrome next is quite high! We thought we’d introduce you to a few of our ‘regular’ athletes who visit the Avantidrome on a daily basis so you can put names to faces when you see them around the building.

Our very first ‘Avantidrome Athlete Profile’ is on 22 year old Cycling New Zealand sprint cyclist Stephanie McKenzie. Steph’s happy and bubbly laugh can be heard around the building on a daily basis when she’s in for training, and you can even buy a bike off her as she’s a part time salesperson at the Avanti Bike shop!

At just 22 years of age, Steph is one of New Zealand’s top female sprint cyclists. Whilst Steph is a full time professional athlete, she’s also studying towards a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise extramurally through Massey University. She hopes to ultimately work towards joining the New Zealand police Force which has been a dream of hers since she was young.

Steph was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 8, an overwhelming discovery which would have a big impact on both her and her families lives.

We sat down with Steph and asked her a few questions about her life and her love of cycling.

How did you get into track cycling?

“I’ve always been super active – I completed three Weet-bix Triathlons, did gymnastics, and swam for my local club before being introduced to track cycling by my local osteopath. I visited my osteopath each week to fix gymnastic related injuries and was advised by my osteopath that I had the ‘right’ physique to be a track cyclist. So, that weekend I went to the Velodrome and joined others to try the track and found my true passion for cycling. I have never looked back.”

What is your biggest achievement to date in Track Cycling:

“Representing New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games – placing 4th in the 500m time trial and 6th in the individual sprints. That was also great for my learning and experience, being in a controlled, professional environment amongst some of the world’s best.”

Tell us about your journey with diabetes:

“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 8 years old. When I was diagnosed my parents and I were not 100% sure what type 1 diabetes was or how significant the impact will be on my life so it was a very uncertain time for all of us.

Each day can be different sometimes my blood glucose levels can go high sometimes they can go low. Whether I am racing, training or having a rest day I am always checking and altering my blood glucose levels before, during and after exercise.

I see myself as a normal athlete when I’m lining up for a race. My race preparation is the same as any other athlete, including a pre-race meal, warm up and fluids. The exception is that I take medicine. I am concentrating on what I need to do to execute the best ride, not my diabetes. My job is to turn up and be the best bike rider I can be.”

Tell us about team Novo Nordisk and your involvement:

“To this day I am still learning new ways to manage my diabetes through exercise. I am lucky enough to be a part of Team Novo Nordisk’s women’s cycling team. Team Novo Nordisk is a global all-diabetes sports team of cyclists, triathletes, runners and is spearheaded by the world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team. We train and race like any other athlete.

Being involved with Team Novo Nordisk is such an honour, Team Novo Nordisk has such a high calibre of medical staff at hand. I rely on them to help me manage my diabetes so I can be in the best optimum performance state.”

What are your goals?

“At the moment I’m focusing on just getting fit, fast and strong. Throughout 2015 there are UCI points up for grabs so we will be targeting them to gain valuable points for upcoming World Cup season starting in early November. I will also be continuing to focus on achieving personal bests throughout 2015 whether it is the gym or on the bike I will be really happy! But my ultimate goal is to represent New Zealand at The Olympics Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.”

Favorite food?

“I’m not a fussy eater so this is always a hard question to answer! I really do enjoy a good eggs benedict at any time of the day.”

Favorite activity to do in the Waikato?

“As Cambridge is so central in the Waikato I love how easy it is to travel to the likes of Tauranga, Rotorua, Raglan, and to the Coromandel to enjoy some relaxation time on the beaches.”

What does a typical training day look like for you?

“I pretty much live at the Avantidrome, our National Cycling Center of Excellence in Cambridge.

I use the facility most days, when the sun is shining you will see me riding to and from my training sessions. I could be using the facility up to three times a day either training on the Velodrome, in the gym, using the athlete lounge, having meetings with a High Performance New Zealand or Cycling New Zealand staff member (nutritionist, sport psychologist, athlete advisor, physiotherapist or massage) or even working part time at the Avanti Bike Shop.

It is great having all the HPSNZ resources under one roof which makes athletes lives a lot easier. I also love the fact that I can head to Revolve café onsite and have a coffee in between the organized chaos that is in my day!”

2015 Worlds