Former Goondiwindi girl, Elle Leahy, has completed one of her biggest challenges yet, competing at the 2020 Federation University Road National Championships.
Considering more than half don't even finish the race, it's been a huge achievement for the Gold Coast-based 22-year-old. Leahy, who finished 26th, started 69th from 79 competitors with only 28 making it across the finish line in the under 23 and elite women's category at Ballarat on Sunday.
"It was one of the biggest races they've had in a while," Leahy said. "It was very hard. We were racing against Australian professionals so I'm really happy with how I went. I just wanted to finish. I was talking to some of the girls who have competed in the past and they said it had never been that fast. It was fast right from the get-go"
The winner cycled an average speed of 35.2km/hr with Leahy traveling around 33km/hr. "This was my first year so I had only heard from others about how tough it was. "We had a seven-minute climb each lap and had to do that nine times.
Leahy competed at the Tour of Bright in December and decided to travel across to Ballarat with her coach while in Victoria. "I wanted to get my head around it and know how to train for the event. I was doing alright in the lead-up; I think I was in pretty good form. I did a lot of long, hilly rides. I've definitely gotten used to the hills living in Brisbane and now at the Gold Coast. A bit different to Goodar Road," she laughed.
Leahy is now having a few weeks off the bike with a big year planned. She'll be cycling at the Oceania Road Championships in Tasmania in March and competing at the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic again in May.
"I'd like to try and travel more this coming season and get some more national-level competitions under my belt.
"I'd love to be able to join a UCI continental team, Roxsolt Attaquer, next year. Two of my training partners from the coast are on the team. They go over to the US and Europe to compete. That's my goal, to get over there and compete and then, who knows from there.
"I finish uni (studying nutrition/dietetics) in the next 18 months so we'll see what happens after that. To become a professional would be amazing. It's a lot of hard work but to be up with some of the big names in the sport already after just one year is great."