Finding the road to success. ( from the Nelson Daily Mail Newspaper)
My daughter Nyle's story.
Sometimes it takes time to find your favourite fitness activity, but the passage of time doesn't necessarily mean you can't achieve at the highest level.
Nyle is 42. She's always had some involvement with sport and fitness, but only now is she reaching her peak in the sport she's chosen.
"I am fitter than I have been in my life. I feel younger and enjoy the extra energy I have now."
Nyle is a race walker. Today she leaves for Sydney for the World Masters Games – one of 25,000 competitors from more than 100 countries competing in 28 sports at 70 venues across the city. How did this happen?
"I represented my school in New Zealand national cross-country and inter-school athletics. I had tried powerlifting, and in my early 30s had entered a couple of bodybuilding championships. But nothing had really grabbed my attention as a permanent sport.
"As a dare, I entered the 2006 Taylors Women's Triathlon in the walk section as a recreational walker. It was at this event that I spotted my first race walker and thought, `Wow, how can I learn to do that?'.
"I tried to teach myself. I entered some duathlons at Rabbit Island, and even biked in the Lake to Sea and Lake to Renwick. But I didn't enjoy the biking as much as the other events.
"In 2007, I decided that I would enter the Taylors triathlon again, and so trained for it, and it paid off when I won the walk section and then later that year the Blenheim Women's.
"I then met Sharon McD at one of the Wednesday night 5km races, and she showed me how to race walk and explained the rules. I still couldn't get the hang of the style, and still looked like a recreational walker."
By this time, Nyle had a ton of motivation, but needed to be pushed in the right direction.
"It was Stephen arriving up from Dunedin that was to change how I walked. He joined us for Wednesday night walks in Richmond, and with his coaxing and guidance my style slowly changed.
"Last year I approached Stephen and asked him to be my coach. I improved quickly under his tutoring, winning the Nelson Shoe Clinic Half Marathon in May, then going to the Oceania Masters Track and Field in Townsville in September. I won three gold medals, one silver and two bronze. The golds were for the 10km road walk, 3000m track walk and 5000m track walk."
Nyle faces her first challenge of the 2009 Masters Games on Tuesday, when she will line up against nine other women in her age group at the start of the 10km road walk at Paramatta Park.
Her competition will end on Sunday with the 5000m track walk. There will be eight women in her age group, but a total of 83 on the track in the various age groups.
The route to the start line hasn't been easy. "I have a programme that my coach has made up for me. It alternates distances and pace times usually one long distance walk a week up to approximately 15km, one track session, two drill sessions and three road walks, 5-8km each walk.