Henry – Northern Ireland Young Sports Person of the Year
North Down Cycling Club was delighted when it was announced that 17 year old Stuart Henry had been selected to represent Northern Ireland at the OCS Young Sports Person Awards 2008, in London later this year.
When asked what his reaction was he replied: ‘I’m really surprised. I knew that the opposition would be really tough. I had met most of the athletes at various training camps in recent years and knew that they were all of a very high calibre’.
OCS is a property services company based in the north of England. Ten years ago it realised there was no formal system for providing support for young competitors in their formative years so it decided to offer a number of bursaries to young sportspeople, to help ease the financial burden on parents. Working in cooperation with the SportsAid charity it offers awards to outstanding competitors from all sports across ten regions of the United Kingdom. Previous national winners include Beth Tweddell, the British gymnast who narrowly missed a medal in this year’s Olympics in Beijing.
Henry had first come to the attention of the SportsAid foundation when he was invited to attend a week long coaching session in Jordanstown after returning from the Youth Olympics in 2007. As an Under 16 rider he had gathered an impressive collection of Ulster, Northern Ireland and Irish national titles, on the road and the track. In addition to his athletic ability his enthusiasm and dedication were also noted and he was invited to return to other camps this year. All of these events were focused on preparing talented local athletes and helping them to develop their full potential.
When he was racing in Belgium this summer as a guest rider for the junior squad attached to Belgium’s leading professional team, Lotto, for whom, incidentally, he rode in an international three day race against the top juniors in Europe, Henry was informed that he had been short-listed as one of the top young sportsmen in Northern Ireland. In August all of those short-listed were subjected to a rigorous interview in Belfast, when a panel, who had flown in from England, questioned them on their performances over the past number of years, their training programmes and their future plans. Henry’s domestic successes were impressive but his ability to move to the heartland of European cycling and compete at an international level was clea
rly an important factor in establishing him as a front runner in the regional finals.
As Henry explained, ‘Fortunately I keep a full electronic record of all my training and racing. This gives an immediate record of my pulse rates and calorific intakes and expenditure. This information is easily accessible and understandable, showing when I was in the ‘red’ and for how long. In several races in Belgium this summer I was in the red zone for almost two hours!’ Clearly his training regime, his successes and his plans for the future impressed the panel and we wish him success in London, when he will come up against regional finalists from all over the British Isles, on the 28th November.
Spending time in the so-called ‘red zone’ is essential if a rider wishes to compete at the top level in racing. As a broad-based club North Down also has a sizeable contingent of riders who prefer to reside in the comfort zone. These riders are more concerned with going the distance and are less concerned about the speed. There are a few riders, however, who manage to combine the occasional race with long distance touring. One such is Noel Boyce who decided to pack his cycle panniers and head off to ride round Ireland last week. With a Garmin satnav cycle computer to guide him during the day and his plastic friend to guarantee him a good night’s sleep Noel managed to clock up over 700 miles in a week. He reckons he burned up over 40,000 calories in the process and he can now be seen frequently in Hoops coffee shop replenishing lost energy.
All members are reminded to attend the club’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 15th October. The meeting will be held in the clubrooms, Park Drive.
The very successful cycle maintenance classes continue this Friday night in the clubrooms, beginning at 7pm. With regular tutor Declan McMackin heading off with John Hunter to Majorca for some autumn cycling, this week Harry Adams will enlighten the awaiting masses on the intricacies of wheel building and wheel maintenance. As always, all club members are very welcome. The usual coffee and biscuits will be provided.
The maintenance classes are part of the club’s winter programme to provide a midweek activity to supplement the weekend training rides. Roller racing and turbo training sessions are also planned , most likely on Wednesday nights. Details will be announced over the next couple of weeks.