For a man who is married to a retired professional road and track cyclist, and whose father was a competitor, coach and administrator at the very highest levels of cycling in New Zealand, Dayle Cheatley reckons becoming a track coach was never a foregone conclusion.
It just kind of happened.
Many moons ago Dayle had come to realise that his day job wasn’t for him, and he’d been “looking after a few people” coaching when a more formal opportunity arose through the cycling Federation.
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It didn’t take Dayle long to realise he’d found his calling as a Track Coach for Cycling New Zealand. A former cyclist himself, Dayle admits to getting more pleasure watching his athletes succeed than he ever got from his own wins (although here he modestly suggests there might not have been too many of the latter).
He believes all good coaches should be driven by a fundamental passion to exceed, and he relishes in seeing his riders’ hard work pay off – watching the elation and oftentimes relief wash over their face and body as they cross that line motivates him to do more.
And more he is certainly doing, as is Cycling New Zealand across the board.
In Dayle’s words, cycling here is “on a high” and that’s not just at performance level, but from a development perspective as well. A recent announcement from Cycling New Zealand to roll out a series of Cycling Performance Hubs (CPHs) is a strategic step in sustaining talent identification and development across the country, which in turn of course supports our future successes on the bike.
Even without this announcement, the future of track cycling in particular has been looking pretty bright. The UCI Juniors Track team has recently returned from a stunning campaign at the World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. Eight cyclists came back with six medals including three gold, placing New Zealand in third overall in the ranking of nations, behind only Germany and Australia.
Dayle highlights Campbell Stewart and Olivia Podmore as particular up-and-coming cyclists to watch, suggesting that they may well become household names sooner than we think. He attributes a portion of this success to the good structures – and people – in place at Cycling New Zealand.
Anthony Peden, Tim Carswell, and Brendon Cameron are just some of the examples Dayle gives of coaches who are helping take the sport of cycling in NZ to the next level.
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“They each bring individual and varied skillsets to the table, but that’s important. It’s exactly what I wanted to see happen – you don’t want influencers who are all the same. I had a vision to implement a very clear coaching structure and now I have these people and programmes in place, I have to say it gives me a real sense of pride,” said Dayle.
In fact, Dayle intimates that it’s this success that could well become one of his challenges. New Zealand is a growing cycling nation and we’re fast starting to develop more riders than we can actually handle.
“It’s actually a mighty fine problem to have. So now I’ve got to start thinking about how we can establish more structures and support a wider range of athletes so that all this collective potential can be fulfilled,” he said.
Add to this the pending World Championship road titles as well as the big one – the 2016 Rio Olympics – and you can see that Dayle is a man with a lot on his mind.
Perhaps not surprisingly, he doesn’t always turn to the bike to help him process any of it.
“Actually I jumped on the bike for the first time in six months just this weekend gone. It’s fair to say the bike I’m on more often than not these days is one with an engine, and one that keeps doing laps of the track. At this point in life I am more likely to jump in the kayak and turn to paddling to unwind.”
Paddling for his own personal gain, and coaching for the gain of others; it’s clearly a winning formula.
Image credit: Dianne Manson