Poppy Buissink won two out of three Girls U20 titles on offer in contrasting ways at last weekend’s National Schools Mountain Bike Championships in Dunedin.
Year 13 Epsom Girls Grammar School rider Poppy led the way in her age group by winning the enduro last Friday and the cross country race on Sunday.
In the enduro, run over five stages at the Signal Hill Mountain Bike Park, she battled with hometown Taieri College rider Emma Cunningham from to win by just one second.
Two days later Poppy finished the cross country five minutes clear of EGGS school-mate Sarah Harvison with Emma Cunningham third.
“My main event was cross country, which I was hoping to do really well in, but I wasn’t sure how the enduro would go,” said Poppy.
“When we were practicing I was actually quite surprised with the tracks as they were not how I expected, they were super rocky and down the bottom of the hill they were slippery. So at one stage we considered just not doing it, just in case we got injured before the cross country.”
“So I was happy I did that in the end!’
Poppy’s enduro win followed up her win in the same event in the North Island Secondary School Mountain Biking Championships, while she was second in the cross country in the North Island race behind Taupo’s Tauhara College New Zealand U19 champion Sammie Maxwell.
The cross country was run on a five-lap course totalling about 20km. Being both runner-up at the schools North Islands this year and in this same national race last year she was focused on putting in a strong performance.
The cross country course started off at a strong pace uphill, before entering a the single track section. Poppy’s tactics of going out hard and getting to the front paid off.
“I wanted to get to the single track first which I did. I was happy with that, and then decided to see if I could break it up on the Big Easy which gave me a good lead,” she said.
As well as finishing five minutes clear of second place EGGS school-mate Sarah Harvison, Poppy’s year 11 sister Scarlett was third in the U17 cross country race.
“Sarah who came second was also in my team that came second at road nationals last week, so that was pretty cool too.”
At the road cycling nationals the previous week in the Manawatu, the two senior riders and younger sister Scarlett were part of the EGGS U20 team that finished second to Baradene College in the prestigious team trial. Baradene won with a time of 27:34.59 with 16 seconds back to EGGS and Christchurch’s Villa Maria College a further minute back in third.
Earlier in the year, EGGS had beaten Baradene into first in both the Auckland series and the North Island Secondary Schools Girls U20 team trial events, so the two schools share a healthy rivalry on the road.
EGGS’ U16 time trial team also finished second to Baradene, with Saint Kentigern College third, while Tegan Feringa was second in the U15 individual road race and Queenie Mcelwee was third in the U17 road race. Ally Gothard won the U16 points race and Maia Barclay was third in the U15 points race.
Individually, Poppy was third in the North Island road race and won the criterium, and then was eighth in the road race at nationals last week.
Poppy said that mountain biking and road cycling complement each other.
“A group of us all go out mountain biking to Totara Park in Manukau on Wednesday nights.”
Poppy has been cycling competitively for several years, after spending her childhood in Dunedin prior to moving to Auckland in year 6 and doing tap dancing and ballet dancing.
“My dad used to do ironman races, so I thought I would give that a go so I started doing some road cycling and really loved it so I have been cycling competitively since then.”
Next year’s National Mountain Bike Nationals are on the same course in Dunedin in January. Poppy was third in the U19 race at this year’s Nationals behind winner Sammie Maxwell.
Before then, Poppy’s focus will be on returning to school next term to prepare for Level 3 NCEA exams coming up in November.
College Sport New Zealand (CSNZ) thanks the One Foundation for their support with this and other stories in 2019 on College Sport Media.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand