An Olympian visits the Junior School

Olympic cyclist Rachel Neylan discusses the importance of good nutrition and adequate rest.

Olympic cyclist Rachel Neylan discusses the importance of good nutrition and adequate rest.

By Laura Cook, Communications OfficerRachel with Ellie and Kaitlin

Students in Years 4?6 were treated to a talk from Olympic road cyclist Rachel Neylan last Friday.

The cyclist, who last year competed at the Rio Olympics and has attended three World Championships, visited the Junior School to speak about the importance of healthy eating for energy and performance.

She was accompanied by a film crew and photographer from the AIS, all of whom were greatly impressed by our students' articulate responses.

Year 6 students Kaitlin Barsby and Ellie Maglasis (pictured, right) welcomed Rachel and opened the session with a PowerPoint presentation they had prepared about her successes.

Rachel shared a little about her background. She began wanting to represent Australia while watching the Barcelona Olympics at the age of 10, but only began riding seriously at 25 after trying out a variety of sports and activities including soccer, athletics and triathlon.

Adequate rest and good nutrition, she pointed out, are essential for everyone ? athletes and non-athletes alike ? and particularly important for young growing bodies.

She quizzed the audience on healthy food choices and was pleased with the suggestions that came thick and fast from students. Natural food choices, from the ground or from the farm, are best, she agreed. Fresh fruit and vegetables and protein sources like meat, chicken, eggs, fish and nuts just can?t be beaten.

Rachel held up her racing jersey to show its assortment of pockets where she stores snacks to fuel her while she?s on the bike. Her favourite snack is a banana, she said, but keeping your balance while riding and reaching for and eating one certainly takes a lot of practice!

Rachel trains six days a week, spending up to six hours ? almost a full school day ? riding. She supplements this with regular gym work, yoga and stretching.

Her current goal is selection for next year?s Commonwealth Games, to be held on the Gold Coast.

Rachel answered questions about passion, motivation, injury and the perils of punctures before engaging in a short Q&A session with Kaitlin, Ellie and fellow students Sam Miller (Year 6) and Josh Miller (Year 4).

Her visit coincided with National Ride2School Day, when many students and teachers combined exercise and travel to school in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.

Rachel took the opportunity to encourage everyone to consider riding to school more often.

Who knows, added Kaitlin and Ellie, 'perhaps one day you might be as successful as Rachel'.

Rachel with Sam, Josh, Kaitlin and Ellie

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