Dylan Kennett has plenty of chapters still to write in his story.
But the Waimate cyclist has already done enough to deserve his latest accolade – induction to the Waitaki Boys’ High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Kennett (25) has two Commonwealth Games bronze medals and a World Championship gold to his name, among various other medals and ribbons he has won since he started in the sport.
His career started after watching Timaru cyclist Marc Ryan win a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kennett got hold of a bike and started training at the Victoria Park velodrome in Waimate with his father Craig Kennett, who would time him.
Spotted at the track by a local cyclist, Kennett was encouraged to try out the local Monday night cycling races.
“They gave me a pretty generous handicap and I won by five minutes.
“That was it, I was addicted to it.”
One of his regular opponents was Holly Edmondston, who is now Kennett’s stablemate at the Elite Cycling Centre in Cambridge.
“Two people from Waimate at the same dinner table at the World Champs, it is pretty funny.”
After leaving Waitaki Boys’, Kennett moved to Cambridge in 2013.
That was when Cycling New Zealand followed the same model as Rowing New Zealand and set up a centralised high performance centre.
He was selected after successful campaigns at the Junior World Cups in 2011 and 2012.
That rise continued when he won a bronze medal in the 4000m team pursuit at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and a gold medal at the World Championship the next year.
The path of an elite athlete is not always rosy, though. Kennett and the New Zealand track cycling team found this out at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The team had achieved good results at the World Championship the year before, and medal hopes were high.
However, the team won only one medal – and Kennett was publicly called out by former Cycling New Zealand high performance director Mark Elliott.
Kennett had been given the wrong place finish in a clerical error during the omnium event, and followed up with a poor finish in the elimination race.
Elliott’s words were criticised by many at the time for being too harsh on 21-year-old Kennett.
“The result in the omnium was corrected later, but nobody told me that at the time,” Kennett said.
“I went out and raced my guts out, but I was quite shaken, I couldn’t get it out of my head.
“It is good having that stuff behind you, though, so you know how to deal with it in the future.”
He said the team culture had changed since then – and so had he.
“It seems a lot more positive and constructive now. There seems to be more support around.”
Kennett has been making a transition from track cycling to road cycling.
When he was ineligible for the Track Cycling World Championships earlier this year, he instead competed in a road race in China, winning a few stages.
Kennett was forced to undergo surgery last month to repair a tight IT band, the tendon that runs up the side of the thigh. It disrupted his season.
But his recovery is going well, and he is now back on the bike and training for the Track Cycling World Cup, starting with events in Cambridge and Brisbane in December.
Next year’s Tokyo Olympics is Kennett’s next priority.
“I will be 25 there so I should be at my prime.”
Kennett was modest, but “very happy”, about being inducted into the Waitaki Boys’ High School Sports Hall of Fame, and will attend tomorrow’s ceremony with his family.
“[Fellow inductee Athol Hudson] died in World War 1, and I feel like nothing I will do in my career with that, giving your life for his country.