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Medal power . . Luke Hayman shows off his silver medal. PHOTO: HAYDEN MEIKLE

Luke Hayman feels the need for speed. The Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil recently won a silver medal in downhill at the New Zealand mountain biking championships in Rotorua. He talks to Hayden Meikle.

How old are you, Luke?
I’m 15. I’m in year 11 at school.

Have you always been into mountain biking?
Not really. I just started a couple of years ago. I raced motorbikes for a little while – a bit of motocross. But then I got a mountain bike and my dad sort of told me it was going to be too expensive to do both so it was time to choose.

What do you like about being on a mountain bike?
I just like going fast. I like the downhill side of it. It’s just flying downhill as fast as you can.

How long does the average downhill race last?
Just three or four minutes, usually.

Favourite track?
Down in Dunedin, Signal Hill. There are heaps of tracks there and I really like it.

Can it be a scary sport?
Oh, a little bit. It depends how hard the track is.

Had any bad accidents?
Not really. I haven’t broken any bones. You always have a few crashes, but that’s always going to happen.

Did you have an expectation of a medal when you went up to the New Zealand schools championships?
I’d done a round of the national series over in Wanaka and came 10th in the under-17 age group. I was in under-16 in Rotorua. I think I might have been ranked sixth or something, so to win a medal was a reasonable surprise. I was about eight seconds off gold.

How often do you train?
Just whenever I feel like it. I just go for a ride all the time. At weekends, I just go to the cape or the reservoir and ride around for a couple of hours.

Do you have a coach?
I’m just sort of doing it myself. My family takes me all over the place, and Martyn’s Cycles have looked after me too.

Do any of your family members ride or play sport?
My dad, Jason, likes adventure racing. He did the Godzone race with a team. I didn’t think he was going to do it but he seemed to handle it all right. He thinks I’d like adventure racing but I’m not sure about that. He’s keen to get a cross-country bike, and if I can do both categories of mountain biking, it should make it easier to get sponsorship in the future.

Do you have any goals in mountain biking?
Yeah, I’d really like to carry on and get into world cup racing and stuff. It will mean a lot of hard work. I will have to do a lot more training than what I am doing.