Catelyn Turner opts for cycling nationals over cross-country

Tasmania hosted two national championships in the last month and Catelyn Turner had to choose between them.

As the state cross-country champion for her age, the Kayena talent had earned selection to the Australian titles in Rokeby but withdrew in order to focus on the junior national road cycling championships in the North-West.

And the decision paid off as Turner – whose numerous sporting pursuits also include triathlon, netball and cricket – was Tasmania’s top performer, twice narrowly missing a podium finish despite being in her first year at under-17.

“I’ve done a lot of different sports in my life,” said the Exeter High Grade 9.

“I won the inter-high cross-country but nationals were just two weeks before cycling nationals and I wanted to focus on that.

“It was an easy decision because I found out I enjoyed cycling a lot and wanted to put my focus into that and try and get a good result.”

Hailing from the same cycling breeding ground that produced the likes of Matt Goss and the Sulzberger siblings, the 15-year-old turned to experienced coach Janelle Smith to help improve her cycling leg in triathlons.

“It was not long before she realised she was getting better on the bike and riding took over from triathlon over the winter and she just blossomed,” Smith said.

“She is still a very good runner and triathlon are chasing her so she has faced a lot of competition to stay in cycling. She’s very hard to keep on the couch.

“The best way to describe her is another Madeleine Fasnacht. She’s just a first-year under-17 so will go through this all again next year and given where she finished this year, she should be on the podium.

“To contest a race like that was a real experience for her and she handled it extremely well. She’s got a lot to learn but a lot of time to do that.”

Inspired by winning the junior race at December’s Stan Siejka Classic and receiving her medal from Richie Porte, Turner further impressed in Victoria’s Blackburn Junior Tour earlier this year before her fifth place in the time trial (45 seconds off gold) and fourth in the road race at the junior road nationals.

“Next year I know I can keep up with the fastest in Australia so can maybe try and podium,” she said.