17 year old Maynard Peel recently attended the Halberg Awards for sporting Excellence. He was one of four finalists in the SKY NEXT Emerging Talent category.
The Papakura teen, who rides for Sunset Coast BMX in Puni says the feeling of being a finalist never really hit him until he was in search of a suit.
“It wasn’t until I had it on and looked in the mirror that I realised where I was going and who was going to be there.”
“I felt very proud and honoured knowing that my hard work for the past nine years was paying off.” He says seeing the smiles on his family’s faces was worth it too. “I do what I love and I give it my all. The rewards are bonuses.”
While he didn’t come away with an award, being in the presence of people he had seen on TV and looked up to as a young boy himself, was enough.
The experience was one Maynard won’t forget any time soon. “I got photos and made conversation with some former and current Olympians,” These included Dame Valerie Adams and Rueben Wiki.” “I felt like I was a star amongst stars,” he says.
2017 will be another big step for the BMX champ. In March, Maynard heads to Bathurst to defend his Oceania title, and in May he will be attending two World Cup races in Europe to race in the Junior Elite and Elite mixed. In July he’s continuing his run to the World Championships in South Carolina to defend his world title. Last year he became the first New Zealander to win an international title at the UCI World Championships in Colombia.
Over the next two years, he will be transitioning to the elite level. “That is still another year away, but now is a good time to prepare.”
Maynard hopes to move to the United States to extend his career by racing and training amongst the best in the world.
He says he’s proud of where he has got to, and being nominated for the award has encouraged him. “Knowing the calibre of achievements these athletes have has made me proud. “It made me realise that I’m standing amongst great people and heading in the right direction.”
Maynard thanks his team for supporting him since the start of his BMX career. “They’re my true heroes.”