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Champions Put Broken Bones, Setbacks Behind Them

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Sporting Champions to Put Broken Bones and Setbacks Behind Them in Quest to Reclaim World Titles Next Year

29 September 08, Auckland: Fast wheels, golden locks and a brace of world titles each are just a few things 2007 Westpac Halberg Sportswoman of the Year category finalists Katherine Prumm and Nicole Begg have in common.

Motocross rider Prumm (20) and in-line skater Begg (21) also share a season of broken bones and broken dreams, after both experienced mid-season crashes and returned from Europe robbed of the chance to retain their world championship crowns.

But the talented duo are determined to fight back and reclaim their titles next season, as they will share with guests at the Westpac Halberg Celebrity Sporting Function in Dunedin next month.

South Auckland based Prumm, who moved to New Zealand from South Africa at seven, began riding bikes at nine and competing at ten. The competitive youngster quickly discovered she could keep up with the boys and has been striking fear into male riders ever since. Katherine rates coming 12th in the men’s NZ Motocross Championships race earlier this year as one of her greatest achievements. “It was the premier class and I was up against 40 men in the final, so was really happy coming 12th. I love racing against the men.”

But it is in the Women’s World Motocross Championships where she had made her biggest mark by winning the title in two consecutive years. After deciding at 14 that her goal was to become world champion by the time she was 20, Prumm wasted no time and earned the coveted title two years ago. “To achieve my goal at 18 was a very special feeling,” she says. “Then last year I had to deal with the pressure of the first win and although I had a rocky start to the season, I knew I had to rise to the occasion. Winning a second time was definitely a big buzz,” she says.

In 2008 she led the championship standings by two points and was on the road to making history with a third consecutive victory, when a training session crash in June saw her collarbone shattered, along with her dream. “Once I saw the x-rays and discovered my collar bone had broken into four pieces, I realised that was the end of that.”

No stranger to breaks and pain, a training crash in early May left Katherine with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee. But despite the pain, she continued on - riding three world championship rounds wearing a knee brace. Katherine says she was finally starting to feel like her old self again before the injury to her collarbone forced her off the bike and out of the championship. “It was pretty disappointing considering I’d put in so much pre-season training,” she says. “To have it all suddenly ripped out of your hands - it’s a tough pill to swallow.”

Meanwhile also in Europe, Nicole Begg - daughter of recognised in-line coach (Bill) and a world champion mother (Cheryl) - also suffered a mid-season injury at the World Inline Cup in May. “It was my second race into the season and I crashed quite badly. I landed on my chin and it split open - there was blood everywhere,” she says.

Because her jaw had taken all the impact, it had to be wired shut. “I couldn’t eat solids so all my food was liquefied and I had to drink it through a straw.” After initially being told it may only need to be wired shut for 10 days, the wires remained for six weeks. “I had to carry a pair of pliers with me everywhere in case I needed to cut the wire in an emergency,” she says.

At this year’s Inline World Championships in Spain, Nicole sped her way to silver in the Senior Women’s 10km points elimination race, earning her a full set of medals after winning gold in 2006 and bronze in 2007. She also took silver in the 15km points elimination race. While happy with her results this season, she intends to make reclaiming the 1000m world title for a 3rd time next year her piority. “I want revenge!” she says.

Both 2007 Westpac Halberg Sportswoman of the Year finalists, Prumm and Begg were excited to be nominated for the award and say they are pleased their minor sports, which have a big following overseas, were recognised in New Zealand. They look forward to sharing more about their eventful seasons at the Westpac Halberg Celebrity Sporting Function at the Dunedin Town Hall on Wednesday, October 22.

The Dunedin luncheon is the fifth of 11 Westpac Celebrity Sporting Functions around the country planned by the Halberg Trust. Other centres hosting Celebrity Sporting Functions include Invercargill (October 23), Queenstown (October 24), Hamilton (November 12), Wellington (November 14), Tauranga (November 26) and Christchurch (December 5).

All funds raised at the luncheon will support the work of the Halberg Trust in linking young people with a disability to sport and active leisure in the Otago region. Tickets to the luncheon are available at $85 each. Contact office[at] .


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