Otago’s Courtney Duncan has beaten the best young motocross men in New Zealand and now she’s headed off-shore to tackle some of the best in the world.
Never mind that she is a female in a male-dominated sport, or that she is up against boys of the same age who are much bigger and stronger than her.
She’s used to combating those odds.
The 15-year-old from Palmerston, just north of Dunedin, was crowned New Zealand 13-16 years’ 85cc champion in April, becoming the first female in history to win the title.
But now she’s setting her sights on even greater success as she heads this week away to compete at the 36th annual Grand National Motocross Championship in Ponca City, north-west of Tulsa, in Oklahoma, from July 24-30.
Effectively this event is the United States Junior Nationals and the East Otago High School pupil and her Yamaha YZ85 can reasonably expect to be among the title favourites.
She has tasted plenty of international success in the past too, winning national junior titles in Australia and also finishing with a world ranking of No.6 at the Junior World Championships in 2009.
Duncan finished just two points off a podium finish at the world championships that year.
“I’ve only seen it (the Ponca City event) on videos, but it looks like it gets really rough, so that suits me,” she says.
“I just try to go out there and, you know, give it 110% every time I’m out there. I don’t really like to lose, so winning’s always the best way.”
Racing the boys is just something she takes in her stride.
“I’m just like any other rider out there,” she insists. “I just want to win and so do they. The boys just treat me like any other rider. They certainly don’t do me any favours.”
And Duncan won’t be backing away from the challenge at Ponca City either.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com