World Championship Gold for Māori Para-cyclist

By Semi Holland

Māori para-cyclist Emma Foy (Ngāpuhi) has won gold at the 2016 Para-cycling track world championships in Italy.

It's her third world title so what does it take for a Māori para-cyclist to win 3 gold medals and 3 consecutive world champ titles.

The tandem pairing of Emma Foy (Ngāpuhi) and Laura Thompson (sighted pilot) won gold in the Women’s 3km pursuit at the 2016 Para-cycling track world championships in Italy.

Emma Foy says “we want to be healthy, we want to be fit and to do that you need to be eating right and be a lean mean machine.”

Emma Foy has also been named Disabled Māori Sports person of the Year for the last two years. Emma is a stoker on the back and is visually impaired.

Laura is the sighted pilot on the front. The pair train full time for 20 hours a week but admit there are challenges.

Emma Foy says “we had a few bumps in the road and we’ve also got a new coach so considering all of that to keep the momentum and to perform as we did, it was really satisfying.”

Laura Thompson who also competed at the London Paralympics in 2012 says, “It’s really important that we set our own targets and keep moving our own boundaries to where we decide they are, rather than letting the competition dictate that, so we make sure we're not complacent.

Emma and Laura rode a strong final to convincingly beat the Japanese tandem of Yurie Kanuma and Mai Tanaka (sighted pilot). Emma set a new World Record and won Gold in a 3km pursuit at the 2014 Para-cycling Track World Championships in Mexico.

They also won two Silver medals and one Bronze at other Para-cycling track and road competitions around the world this year.

Every win and placing represents points, increasing Emma’s eligibility to represent New Zealand at the next Paralympics. Emma has also been recruited to New Zealand’s High Performance team as a tandem cyclist, beginning a fast track to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil.