Courtney Duncan says winning her third consecutive Women’s Motocross World Championship title has not really sunk in yet.
Life had been ‘‘pretty hyped and busy’’ since Sunday — and the Palmerston rider was already facing another challenge: trying to get home.
The 25-year-old has been unable to secure an MIQ spot to return to New Zealand, leaving her stuck in Italy.
Duncan said she was hopeful to get a spot in the coming weeks, to celebrate her success with family and friends.
‘‘I have a lot of support back home that it’s not possible to race without, so it would be cool to get back and celebrate with those guys as well,’’ she said.
‘‘In a perfect world I’d like to think I’ll be able to get home but that’s something that’s out of my control, so I’ll just have to wait and see.
‘‘I’m still in Italy enjoying life with some friends here, doing some sightseeing — normally you have that racing pressure each day, and not to have that, and just relax for the time being is nice.’’
Securing a place in MIQ was just another challenge thrown into the mix for Duncan. While she won the championship by a resounding 31 points, it was not a smooth ride to victory.
She had a ‘‘hefty crash’’ in Spain on October 16, in which she slightly fractured her finger, and had struggled in the second round of the series in July, riding on sand which she had not done for three years.
But she made the best out of every situation.
‘‘If you looked at the points gap at the end you’d think it was won easily but it really wasn’t,’’ she said.
‘‘I really had to push hard there to even make a podium in the second Moto, Spain I had a massive crash . .. that could have been season-ending and then there were a few other things going on as well.
‘‘It comes down to how much it means to you, and how much is on the line and how much you want to win it.’’
The win made Duncan New Zealand’s most successful female motocross rider, surpassing fellow world champion Katherine Oberlin-Brown (nee Prumm), who won the title in 2006 and 2007.
Duncan said she still needed time to digest the win.
‘‘The initial feeling it is still really good . . .I think it’ll be when things slow down a little that I realise this is pretty surreal.’’
All three wins had been pretty special and all unfolded in different ways, she said.
‘‘The first one is always going to be hard to beat, especially after having many years of injuries, but this year also had its own struggles, so it feels good too.’’
She hoped her success inspired the next generation, and gave young girls and children the belief anything was possible through hard work and the right attitude.
The support Duncan received from people in Waitaki, and her hometown of Palmerston, had been amazing.
‘‘As an athlete you never take the fans and support for granted — I love representing my home region.’’