Far North's 'Flash' beats off competitors from top schools to win North Island U-13 Secondary School Cycling Champs


A Kaitaia schoolgirl dressed in pink and a long way from home has beaten dozens of cyclists from some of the country's most prestigious schools and has "peed" them all off along the way.

Twelve-year-old Tyla-Mia Foster won the U13 North Island Secondary School champs.
Source: 1 NEWS

Twelve-year-old Tyla-Mia Foster had never been on a bike until eight months ago, yet this weekend she took out the Under 13 year olds North Island Secondary School Championship race in Cambridge, beating more than 30 students from schools including Saint Kentigern, Baradene, Diocesan, Cambridge and Saint Marys.

She knocked out the 26.5km road race in one hour forty seconds, surprising the commentator and elating spectators.

But Tyla's win wasn't a fluke. She had a plan.

"I made a girl stay in front of me the whole time, I kept telling her to keep going and go faster," she said.

And then, with a few hundred metres left, she made her move.

"They were all telling me to stay in my lane, I said 'nah', I just went in front of them and won. They got really peed off with me but I don't care," Tyla said.

Tyla-Mia Foster won the under-13s race against more than 30 student.
Source: Breakfast

Tyla is one of six members of the Far North Flash team. They're all girls, all Maori and all under the age of 13.

They are coached and sponsored by Kaitaia teacher Phil Gibbs.

The girls cycle five times a week and swim three times. Gibbs transports them to and from training, he's bought them their bikes, all their gear and they pay him a ten dollar donation each week.

Tyla with team and coach Phil.

Tyla with team and coach Phil.

Source: 1 NEWS

There's one rule - dedication. They're not allowed to do other sports and have to attend every training session.

Tyla was recruited last year. She had run past Gibbs crying after coming third in her school cross country.

"Most kids would be pretty happy to come third, but this girl wanted to win, I knew that if she wanted to win that badly she'd be great on my team," he said.

The North Island champs was Tyla's first race on this scale and one would have thought - pretty overwhelming.

While other schools had teams of more than 50 cyclists and had erected large marquees, food stands and pit stops, the Flash team hung out in their mini van completely unfazed.

"They're Northland kids, they're tough and they're talented," says Gibbs.

And with that, the girls will be back training today. They're heading to a cycling training camp in Auckland to prepare for another race in Hastings next weekend.

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