Fast Eddie Proves He Has What It Takes
Fast Eddie Proves He Has What It Takes To Reach The Top In Cycling
04 February 2008 Southland: Southland cycling star Edward (Eddie) Dawkins is still only 18, but he can lay claim to being New Zealand’s fastest cyclist at any level for the one kilometre time trial.
Little wonder cycling officials are predicting a big future for the Invercargill teenager who last year scored New Zealand’s first silver medal in the kilo at the World Junior Cycling Championships where he posted the fastest time by any New Zealander at any competition.
Following that breakthrough, Dawkins was selected in the NZ Elite track team at the Oceania Championships where he again finished second. These performances earned him selection as a finalist for the Westpac Emerging Talent Award at this year’s Westpac Halberg Awards which carries a $25,000 scholarship to the winner.
Dawkins, who took up cycling as a 12-year-old, has rapidly established his record-holding position in the last 18 months and credits his recent success to hard training not necessarily natural talent. “I kept pushing to do my best even though I wasn’t up there,” he says. “I’ve only really just come into my own in the last year and a bit,” he says.
National track coach William Rastrick says the Invercargill teen has “already shown in the last year and a bit that he can take on the world and he’s got no fear of that.” He says Dawkins has the X-Factor and “relishes a challenge.” He has a big future. “It’s very exciting,” he says.
The talented youngster notes his record breaking achievement as a definite highlight and said although he was “hoping to go that fast” he remembers being “surprised a little at the time.” Bike NZ High Performance Director Elliott says Dawkins was “very unlucky not to win the world title” last year, which he missed by 1/10th of a second, but is confident he will take gold this year. “That close race will keep him firing for a win over the next few months,” he says.
The former James Hargest College student has made cycling his main pursuit, spending at least four hours a day at the track. He also studies Sport and Recreation part-time at Southland Institute of Technology, “to take my mind off cycling.”
Dawkins heads to Manchester this year to compete in the UCI Track Cycling World Championships and is determined to finish in the top five. His goal is to represent New Zealand in the kilo and team sprint at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India and then in the team sprint at the 2012 London Olympics.
“To be an Olympian and the best of the world, you need to want it more than anyone else. I know I have this value and it pushes me to be the best. With a lot of hard work I believe my dream will become a reality,” says Dawkins.
Elliott says Dawkins is “incredibly committed to his future success” and says this is necessary in cycling as the best sprinters in the world are in their thirties and at just 18, Dawkins has a few years before he is in peak riding form. “Speed doesn’t just come from pure talent, which we know Eddie’s got, endurance and experience is important too and that comes with time,” says Elliott.
Dawkins says the Westpac Emerging Talent Award which carries a $25,000 scholarship would be invaluable. “Without money, there is no way you can be a cyclist,” says Dawkins who is set to buy a new bike soon for $11,000. “It’s not a cheap sport.” Should he win, Dawkins says the prize would go towards cycling equipment and travel costs.
The Westpac Emerging Talent Award aims to identify and assist a young athlete in their quest to one day become an Olympic or World Champion and possibly a future winner of the supreme Halberg Award.