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Olympic hero Ellesse Andrews' secret to her success

The cycling champ is on the right track for more medals, but reveals her life isn't all about sport.

By Kelly Bertrand
Y ou'd be hard-pressed to find a trophy cabinet fuller than that of superstar cyclist Ellesse Andrews. Aged just 23, the Christchurch-born, Cambridge-based athlete has more bling than a '90s rapper – a shiny silver Olympic medal, three gold and one silver from the Commonwealth Games, and her newest additions, a gold and bronze from this year's World Championships.
On the track, she's almost unbeatable, but for Ellesse, the real marker of success isn't the awards and trophies – it's a balanced life.
"Something really massive for me is making sure that I'm fulfilling all areas of my life, including my sport – it's my passion, but it's also my job," she tells Woman's Day. "I'm not going to be an athlete forever, so what am I doing to help myself grow as a person outside of my career? Well-roundedness is very important and it will be what keeps me in cycling longer."
Ellesse hopes to add to her medal haul at the Paris Olympics.
As well as already being one of New Zealand's most successful athletes in both sprints and keirin cycling, Ellesse is also a talented singer and musician. "Mainly for fun!" she stresses, laughing. "Although there are a couple of other athletes in Cambridge who are really talented musicians, so sometimes we get together and work on little projects, which is really fun."
In the age of athletes paying attention to their mental health, Ellesse's approach to making sure there's more to life than cycling has seen her already soar to stratospheric heights. Famously, despite
not being an endurance rider, she subbed in at the last minute for an injured team pursuit rider at last year's Commonwealth Games – and came away with silver!
But off the track, you're more likely to find her outside in nature in Cambridge, where she lives in a flat with four other athletes, or else by the beach in Raglan with her friends or partner Josh.
Striking silver at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
"He's a PE teacher and he did row before stopping in the last few years," tells Ellesse. "Now he's also a rowing coach. Although I have no desire to jump in a boat myself, we joke about it! It would be quite fun to go try it, but as a sprinter, my efforts are very, very short and the rowers go for miles!
"But if I'm out in nature, I'm pretty happy. I love getting outside and it's so good for you. I love Cambridge and building the amazing community of friends we have here."
Parents Jon and Angela are former cycling stars too!
Her talent on the bike should really be no surprise – her father Jon is a double Commonwealth Games sprint track medallist himself, winning two bronzes at the Auckland Games in 1990, while her mother Angela also competed internationally at mountain biking.
It was in mountain biking where Ellesse, who has a younger sibling named Eddie, began her cycling journey, before switching to track.
Off the track, music is another passion for Ellesse.
"I was always around cycling," she tells. "It was something we did as a family. Although it wasn't always my favourite sport, I did lots when I was growing up. I really loved it when I was introduced to track – the adrenaline, how fast you can go… I love leaving it all out there and seeing how far I can push myself."
Coming from a supportive environment set Ellesse on a course for greatness.
"We've got a range of different talents and interests in the family. Mum is a musician as well and, above everything else, supporting each other's passions is the most important thing."
With her rowing teacher boyfriend Josh.
With the 2024 Olympics just around the corner, the Andrews family will be behind Ellesse every step of the way.
"Going into next year, it'll be all eyes on Paris," she says of her second Olympic campaign. "I'm really excited. I'm in a really different place than I was last time. It was all very new and unknown, and
I had really big goals, which has always been my thing. But I was a young rider.
Ellesse's impressive medal haul.
"Now I have a bit more experience behind me and it's a cooler place to be coming from. I'm a different person now than I was at the last Olympics, and that's just from having more experience and growing up a little bit."
A high-five with her grandparents after winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Learning how to switch between "cycling Ellesse" and "normal Ellesse" has been a huge part of her development, she adds.
"As a sprinter, I have to be so fired up, so switched on and really ready to rock. But when it's time to switch off, I bring more of the calmness and mindfulness. I carry the same determination to everything
I do, but it's about how you approach the different situations. You can't be fired up all the time! But I am so excited for 2024. Bring it on!"

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