Rushlee Buchanan, New Zealand cycling olympian and St Peter’s, Cambridge alumni (1999-2005) reflects on the impact St Peter’s had on her teenage years and the development of her cycling career.
As a student at St Peter’s I was encouraged to do both a summer and winter sport, but in my first few years I didn't have a summer sport that I really enjoyed. In 2000 we did a project on the Summer Olympics in Sydney and for some reason I honed in on the cycling and this was basically my lightbulb moment! I enjoyed riding my bike but never knew it was a competitive sport, and that women could do it. Sarah Ulmer was my favourite athlete of those games and she was the reason I noticed cycling. My father was also training for fun-rides and I remember coming home from school one day and jumping straight on his bike, and the rest is history. After that day I managed to convince my father he should start a cycling team at St Peter’s. There was only one other person in my year who rode. Every year it grew and I am proud to see what the St Peter’s Cycling Academy has become today. So much has been achieved since 2000 when I saw Sarah Ulmer compete in the velodrome in Sydney. Today I train daily in one of the best velodromes and high performance facilities in the world on the St Peter's campus - wow! What an accomplishment for the school and community!
St Peter's, for me, was a great journey through my teens. I loved running around in the mud in Year 7 during Prep Flag Day, and I enjoyed entering every single event in athletics sports to get maximum points for Swears (maybe I was just a little competitive). St Peter's gave me the opportunity to find my passion in numerous areas, not just sport. It was such a supportive environment, so I tried a bit of everything!
St Peter's gave me the opportunity to search through a range of different areas to see what I enjoyed and thrived in. The school also provided a safe and supportive environment where I met great people who also inspired me. I can't ignore the fact that the school project was the first time I heard about Track Cycling, so I would say St Peter's definitely changed my life, but not just in the information I gained - the school backed my ambitions and took the time to see cycling was a growing sport in New Zealand.
Since finishing secondary school I have seen so many areas of the world, met amazing people (including my husband) and discovered a lot about myself. I am a professional cyclist, an olympian, a Commonwealth Games athlete and for the last nine years I have lived in perpetual summer (New Zealand and the USA). I'm still working on my degree - a slow but steady process I have been doing since leaving St Peter's. (Traveling the world competing does not make for effective study time!)
St Peter's provides so many opportunities to each student, but it is up to you to reach out and take them. I encourage everyone to try as many things as possible, to see what you really enjoy, what you really thrive in and maybe somewhere along the way you will find your passion. It can be anything. It might be something the school doesn't offer right now (like cycling was for me). The foundations on which the school operates will allow for anyone to learn what and who they really want to be, if they themselves also put the effort in.
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