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Real Life

Eddie Dawkins road to success

The Kiwi gold medalist’s need for speed puts his mum in a spin.

By Nicky Dewe
It’s been an incredible year for champion track sprint cyclist Eddie Dawkins – and this will be a Christmas to savour. And it hasn’t been a bad 12 months for his mum Julie, either!
When the young Southlander walked up to the podium to collect his gold medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, tears were flowing in the stands.
“Mum shed a few,” laughs Eddie (25), who claimed his victory in the team sprint, along with Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell.
“It was a feeling of joy and pride but also a huge sense of relief,” explains Julie, who with husband Bill and Eddie’s younger brother Tom, booked last-minute tickets from Invercargill to Scotland when Eddie was confirmed in the Kiwi squad.
“You’re always aware of what can go wrong, like crashes or mechanical failures, and you just have to sit there and watch it all unfold,” she adds.
It was a proud moment for Eddie and his mum Julie when he won gold in Edinburgh.
And while there have been some sensational wins over the years, there have also been some spectacular collisions. It’s something a stoic Eddie takes in his stride but Julie admits she doesn’t bounce back so easily.
“As a mother, it’s horrible,” she says. “Taking risks is something he has to do. Over the years, I’ve learned to have faith in him and to shut my mouth a bit more – but I still worry just the same.”
And while Julie goes on her own emotional ride every time her son takes part in a big race, she is grateful for the way cycling has helped transform Eddie.
“Sport has been the answer for him,” she says. “When he was a kid, we knew that the only way to keep him on the straight and narrow was to get him into sport and keep him busy."
Eddie doesn’t underestimate the role his parents have played in helping him achieve success, either. “My family have been huge supporters – they kept encouraging me even when I found it hard and it’s been a big sacrifice for them. Once you start cycling, everything is very expensive, until you make the New Zealand team. It was a huge ask financially to get me up and rolling.”
Eddie with his gold medal from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Eddie admits he still relies on his mum and dad for their wisdom. “There’s a saying that my dad has, passed down from his father, and I have it tattooed on my forearm. It’s Nil Desperandum and it means Never Despair. What my dad tells me is that no matter how hard the training is, or how badly you crash, there’s always another day and things will get better.”
These days, Eddie heads overseas to compete several times a year, but he always checks in with his mother. “Mum’s on Facebook 24/7, so she’s usually figuring things out before I even let her know!
“I know she hates the risky side of things. There’s always the element of danger but that’s what makes it so much fun. Life’s boring without a bit of danger.”

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