Hartshead cyclist Abby-Mae Parkinson sets Olympic wheels in motion

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Abby-Mae Parkinson, centre, after victory in the under-16 female youth race at the 2013 British National Cyclo-Cross Championships at Peel Park in Bradford Abby-Mae Parkinson, centre, after victory in the under-16 female youth race at the 2013 British National Cyclo-Cross Championships at Peel Park in Bradford

Following in the footsteps of the Brownlee brothers and your Olympian mother may be overwhelming for some but cyclist Abby-Mae Parkinson hopes to take her first steps towards doing just that at the European Youth Olympic Festival.

Parkinson, who lives in Hartshead, has been chosen as part of the 44-strong Great Britain team that will head out to Utrecht this month to compete against some of the finest young sportspeople from across Europe.

Team GB consists of 44 athletes aged 13 to 17 who will compete in cycling, gymnastics, judo, swimming and tennis. They will test themselves against more than 2,300 of the finest young sportspeople from 48 other countries across the continent.

Parkinson, who started out as a swimmer before crossing over to cycling via triathlon three years ago, and now competes for RST racing team, has a strong history of two wheels in her family.

Her mother, Lisa Brambani, represented Britain in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and went on to become a silver medallist in the Common-wealth Games, while her father, Michael Parkinson, also rode competitively.

And the 15-year-old, who goes to Bradford Grammar School, the same one attended by London 2012 Olympic triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, explained she has plenty of motivation to do well at the 12th festival, taking place from Sunday to Friday, July 19.

“I am still getting over the shock of being picked but I am really looking forward to it,” she said. “I have not really put any pressure on myself just yet.

“I just find it such an inspiration to have people like my parents, and then obviously getting to talk to the Brownlees.

“They inspire me to want to go out and do it myself. I would love to go to the Olympics so this is another step towards that.

“My mum still has all her kit from when she went to the Olympics and when I look at it and know I am going to get my own I get so excited.

“Jonny came into school earlier this year and was talking to us about the Olympics.

“He was really friendly, I got to hold his medal and he talked about the Olympics and fitting training in around school work.”

Part of a six-strong cycling team heading out to the Netherlands, Parkinson will be competing in the road race and the time trial – her favoured event.

And having picked up the National 10 Mile Time Trial title in 2011, the cyclist is looking to leave a mark when she competes for Great Britain for the very first time.

“My form this year has been good,” she added. “I won two of the selection races, the North West youth tour race and the Hog Hill national youth circuit race, and then came second in the Isle of Man national series races.

“I hold the under-16 national ten mile time trial record in 21.44 minutes, which I set last year. The Youth Olympic Festival is only six miles I think.

“It’s definitely an aim to win out there. I don’t know how I will do over that distance and how good everyone else is going to be but I’ll be aiming for the podium.

“I made my debut in the Netherlands and the Dutch love their cycling, so the atmosphere should be great. And I’d love to meet the Dutch Olympic champion Marianne Vos, so hopefully she’ll be there.”

* The British Olympic Association prepares and leads British athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games. It works in partnership with sport national governing bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values. www.teamgb.com

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