Abi’s be-spoke skills earns elite selection

Elite cyclist Abi Smith.
Elite cyclist Abi Smith.

A talented 16-year-old North Yorkshire athlete is celebrating after she was selected for the elite British cycling team.

This means Ripon Grammar School student and triathlete Abi Smith, who has also excelled as a mountain runner for England, is among the top eight junior cyclists in Great Britain.

The teenager, from Helmsley, will now be competing in a series of international races while committing to an arduous schedule of around 100 days a year training.

Abi, who joined RGS sixth form as a boarder in September, was thrilled to receive the call from the British Cycling Junior Academy, saying:“It’s very exciting but nerve-wracking too, knowing I’ll be training with the best in the UK.”

As part of her selection, Abi had to compete against 60 other riders in a national series of 30km races over three days in the North West Youth Tour and again in the London Youth Tour. She came a close second overall, just 10 seconds behind the winner.

Abi said: “It is so competitive to get into the national team with 60 top athletes every year applying for a small number of places.

“I was shocked to get in. I wasn’t really expecting it as you have to be both a road and velodrome track rider, and I haven’t really done much velodrome riding. But they said they could see potential.”

Although the team is based at the Derby Velodrome, Abi will do most of her training in North Yorkshire.

She said: “I’ll be spending about a third of the year training on my bike, doing road rides from school and with the local Moonglu and Clifton cycling clubs.

“I have spent the past six years doing sport every day, training around ten hours a week, so I’m used to it and will give it a go.”

She says being on-site at school all week is ideal.

Abi said: “The good thing about being a boarder is I can use all the sports facilities at school if I have to and because I don’t have to travel every day, I have more time to spend on homework and in the gym.

“There are some good hills in these parts, such as Lofthouse and Brimham Rocks. It’s a new area that I’m really enjoying exploring.”

Also a keen cyclist and swimmer, Abi has been competing in triathlons since the age of ten, taking part in National Super Series events all over the country, and regularly finishing in the top five.