NZ Police trainee, Rebecca Petch has been named in the 19-strong New Zealand cycling team headed to this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
As Rebecca (pictured) visualised what it would be like to ride the track at Tokyo’s Ariake Urban Sports Park at the upcoming Olympics, her phone rang.
It was the New Zealand Olympic Committee informing the 23-year-old Te Awamutu rider that she had the BMX spot as part of the 19-strong New Zealand cycling team.
“I was pretty excited. I was home alone and got the call saying I was going to Tokyo – it felt a bit surreal,” she said.
Rebecca – who works as an Authorised Officer in Waikato – has been riding BMX since she was three years old, following in the footsteps of her brother Cameron.
As a teenager she competed in the junior elite category – racing Oceania competitions – and then on to the Elite category competing in World Cups, achieving final and semi-final spots.
“Since then I’ve just never looked back. I’ve learnt a lot in those years and it’s got me to where I am now, overcoming the highs and lows,” she says.
She will head off to Australia next week to train on a similar track to the one she will face in Tokyo. Then it’s back to the Waikato before heading off to Japan with the New Zealand team at the end of July.
Rebecca is on the pathway to becoming a police officer. She joined the recruiting process and recently took up a role as an Authorised Officer to experience the policing environment before college.
“I have always wanted to join Police. I also wanted to go for the Paris Olympics [in 2024] but didn’t want to put my career aspirations on hold – so I thought why not do both?”
She balances work and training twice a day, most days at the track in Cambridge and at her home club in Te Awamutu, as well as training in the high-performance gym at the Avantidrome.
There’s nothing like the adrenalin of making a jump for the first time, she says.
“It takes you around the world, you meet new people, learn and have life experiences.”
Heading to Tokyo, Rebecca is expecting a tough field of 24 women at the top of their game internationally.
“It’s not going to be easy but it’s a good challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”
The three-time BMX national champion is one of four riders for road, mountain bike and BMX named by the New Zealand Olympic Committee for the Tokyo Olympics.
“It has been a challenging time for BMX, with its expansive international travel schedule derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and New Zealand’s leading female riders not racing the UCI Supercross since early 2020 in Australia,” Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director, Martin Barras said.
“However, Rebecca Petch showed she is of international quality and importantly has the potential to develop into even more of a contender for the future.
“In addition to her strong performances during the qualification period, the Tokyo games will also help develop her potential for Paris 2024.
“There are a number of highly promising young riders moving into the international scene with the hope of more riders earning quota spots for Paris in four years.”