Many will recall the glory years of Katherine Prumm, the New Zealand girl who hit Europe like a hurricane and blew away so many of the established stars in the women’s motocross scene between about 2005 and 2008, when the Aucklander was eventually struck down with a career-ending injury.
In more recent times it has been another young Kiwi girl who has turned heads in the Southern Hemisphere – and recently in the United States too – and it probably won’t be much longer before Otago’s Courtney Duncan is a household name in Europe.
But, for the time being at least, Duncan has been frustrated as she sits on the sideline.
Thankfully, it probably won’t be long now before we see her tormenting the boys once again.
The 16-year-old Yamaha ace from Palmerston, in south Otago, recently underwent a second remedial operation to repair both her knees, injured while training about two years ago and now she’s awaiting medical clearance to get out there on the race track again.
“It hasn’t been six months since my operation yet, but it does feel like a long time that’s for sure,” she said.
She said she could be back in action in the next few weeks or so, perhaps as early as the end of this month.
“I’ll be back racing again just as soon as I can feel comfortable and confident in my knees,” said Duncan, who had sensationally finished with a world ranking of sixth in the 85cc class at the Junior World Motocross Championships in Taupo in August 2009.
“It is very tough not being able to ride. I’m feeling very strong at the moment, even stronger than before. I have been running, cycling, swimming, working out in the gym and mountain-biking too. I’m doing a lot of rehab work and I’m in the gym five times a week. I just need my surgeon to give me the thumbs-up and I’ll be racing again.
“The damage to my knees came from an accident I suffered while training at home in September 2009. I didn’t actually crash. I put my foot down on the ground and tweaked it funny while riding on my home track.
“I knew something wasn’t right but because I was so young then – only 13 – the doctors didn’t really pick up on it.
“I have had heaps of trouble with my knees since then. I haven’t really been 100% in about two-and-a-half years.”
That admission gives added credit to her remarkable podium achievements at the United States Junior Motocross Championships at Ponca City in July last year, a week-long event in which she turned heads when beating so many of the world’s junior elite.
She scored back-to-back wins to steal away with the USA 65-85cc girls’ crown and then, although a year younger than some of her male rivals, Duncan finished third overall in the 85-150cc stock class – her 3-2 race results earning her the podium spot – and she also finished the event ranked fourth overall in the 85-150cc modified class after finishing 3-5 in her two outings.
“Things are ready to happen for me again in the United States. I just have to give the word and I’ll be back racing there either later this year or next year.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com