Candy on a bike

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

Lily Candy (Year 12) is a machine. She is a member of the senior mixed touch, futsal and hockey teams at Upper Hutt College. More impressively, she is a leading BMX cyclist. With so little local competition in the Wellington region for her age group she often competes against boys, older rivals, or travels out of region to match-up against her contemporaries.

In 2020 Lilly was bound for the World BMX Championships in Houston, Texas but was unable to attend because of Covid lockdown.

At the recent BMX Nationals in Hamilton she placed fifth in the junior elite BMX event.

Competing in the junior elite category represented a major step up for Candy and was achieved after a long road back from injury.

“In December I went to the same track in Hamilton to get some training in before Nationals. I  had a serious crash, got a concussion and broke my wrist,”  Candy said.

“Earlier in the year I was mountain biking at Skyline in Rotorua and injured the UCL in my thumb which I had to rehab for six months.

“I had to change the way I trained. Sometimes I’d just do gym work, sometimes I rode gently with one hand or I just sat on a stationary bike.

“I kept going because I wanted to do well in the junior elite and improve my riding overall. Every track is different but always consists of three corners and four straights. Each race is usually around 40 seconds depending on the track.”

Candy was introduced to BMX after enjoying a primary school competition. She then joined the Hutt Valley Thunderbolts, one of three clubs and tracks in Wellington. The others are Capital City and Kāpiti. There are training and competition nights at each club which are all voluntary to attend. Candy was a regular with the Thunderbolts and within two years she was competing at her first Nationals.

She improved her placings at each nationals over three years, leaping from 12th to 5th. Additionally she won competitions in New Plymouth, Te Awamutu and Wellington and has competed against Olympian, Rebecca Petch.

She trains at least six times a week for BMX, and attends her other codes, despite receiving no financial support for BMX from her club, school and cycling New Zealand.

“I never get bored of training. You can train in the gym, work on speed, gate technique. There is so much that goes into being a good rider”

Her mother Michelle is a dental assistant and her Father Garth an IT consultant.

“My parents take me everywhere, they often refer to themselves as my taxi. I’m so grateful for their support and that of my twin sister too.”

One of her biggest rivals is Leila Walker who is a 10-time National champion and six-time World champion from cambridge.

“My journey has only just begun. It’s my goal to continue pursuing my passion in BMX, to become the very best rider I can be, and one day compete on the world stage.”