Being as fast as possible around the velodrome is the name of the game for sprint cyclist, Natasha Hansen . Currently preparing for her second Olympics, Natasha is all about speed,power and execution around the 250m velodrome. Originally from Southland, Natasha is now based in Cambridge with the New Zealand Cycling Team. Natasha will fly on her bike in Rio and it was fantastic to have a chat to her as she prepares to triumph on the ultimate sporting stage….
I first wanted to go to the Olympics when I was in Primary School and would watch the Games on TV. From memory I remember watching the swimming on tv the most but seeing Sarah Ulmer in 2004 win her gold medal on the track was pretty cool. That moment really inspired me in my own track cycling as I had just picked the sport up. I thought watching Sarah, how cool it would be to go to the Olympics and do the same thing.
What does it mean to you to be an Olympian?
It’s very special to be an Olympian and it’s a big achievement for anyone. It’s about all the hard work that you do. To represent your country at the highest level is a big honour. It’s a great opportunity to go out there, do our best doing something that you love and hopefully we make New Zealand proud.
How do you feel as a female athlete representing NZ?
The Olympics is a great opportunity to get more exposure in the sport that they are doing. Sport in New Zealand is quite male dominated so being able to go to the Olympics and showcase what us female athletes can do is really good. I think its great to be able to inspire other young girls to be able to do the same thing. They should know that if you have got a goal and you stick at it, you can achieve it.
Describe one of your hardest training sessions in the last 6 months
Well a few weeks ago we had the worse session I’ve ever done in my life. It was the worst and also the best at the same time. We did a session of seated big gear efforts over 750m in a gear which I’d never ridden before. It was a handicapped race of the whole squad and you’re just pushing yourself to win. I pushed myself so hard that I couldn’t even keep up with my legs spinning in a small gear to try and relieve some of the pain in my legs. It honestly felt like a million knives stabbing into my legs at the same time. It was so horrible. All I wanted to do was cry. I hated it. But I also loved it so much as I just know I’m going to get so much benefit from them.
When you walk out to compete in Rio what will be the last thing you tell yourself?
We have had such a good training block so I will tell myself I’m as prepared as I can be and I’m as ready as I can be to race.
What will you have for breakfast before you compete in Rio
Race day breakfast will be oats with cinnamon because I have cinnamon on everything. Plus I’ll maybe have a couple of bits of gluten free toast with peanut butter (pix) and marmite. Sounds like the worst combination but it’s amazing.
Aside from life as an elite athlete what else makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Right now being at athlete is all what’s going on. At the moment I’m solely focused on Rio. So Rio motivates me everyday to get up.
What’s your ideal rest day?
I would get up in the morning and sit and watch a couple of recorded episodes of a tv series from the week. I’ll do some odd jobs and personal admin. However most rest days I’ll do some baking and cooking as I love being in the kitchen. The next day I’ll take some baking into the coaches so my boyfriend and I don’t eat it all and sabotage our training!
If you weren’t dominating the sporting world what would you be doing?
I would be an Air Traffic Controller.
Finally, if you had the chance to acknowledge someone who has helped you get to this point in your sporting career who would it be and why?
It’s really hard to pinpoint just one person because I feel like so many people have helped me over the years but it would have to be an old coach, Jerry Stock. Jerry was there from the beginning for me and he believed in me at a time when I thought that I didn’t really believe I wanted to continue in the sport. He offered to coach me about six years ago and with his help I was able to qualify for the London Olympics. Being in London has set me up to re-establish myself in the NZ programme now as it is working alongside my current coach Anthony Peden and the other NZ Sprint boys.