Five years ago, Nick Chisholm would read mountain biking magazines in his Moree home and then jumped on his bike and pump his 11-year-old legs, doing jumps on the track he made with his elder brother Josh and his father Bernard at the back of their house. The town’s flat topography is not mountain bike friendly.
Then one day his parents took him to Armidale and let him loose in the town’s hills, mountain biking nirvana, and the bug bit so hard that the sport became the power source he orbits, and competing at the world championships and the Olympics became his end game. “I wasn’t gonna let it go,” he said.
On Saturday in Armidale, Chisholm, who recently turned 16 and now lives in Tamworth, became the under-17 cross-country national champion – three months after being crowned NSW state champion. He wore his state champion jersey when he pulled a wheelie over the finish line at the nationals.
“I was just so stoked that I actually got it,” he said, “because I wanted it so bad. It was just relief, really, that I’d got it.”
The championships were staged on a course at the University of New England. The Year 10 Farrer student not only had to overcome the best under-17 riders in Australia but a course made more treacherous by rain. The fact that he won under such trying conditions further underlines his skill, which he acknowledged without a hint of ego.
He also won comfortably, beating Queenslander Momo Frank by 53.10 seconds.
“The track was absolutely soaked," he said. “So everything was slippery. Like all the angled rocks in the rock garden. You’d just slide through those. It was pretty wet.”
Chisholm formed a strong bond with leading Armidale mountain biker Holly Harris when he was a member of New England Mountain Bikers. Harris finished second in the elite women’s race at the nationals.
Fiona Chisholm said Harris and NEMB were instrumental in her son’s development in the sport. He is now a Tamworth Mountain Bikers member.
She praised her son’s dedication to a sport the whole Chisholm family participates in. And she said he was trying “to find a school and life balance”. “He’s very lucky that he has great people around him supporting him,” she said.
Chisholm’s performance capped of a great championships for TMB, with Ann Buchan winning the expert women’s division, Mick Sherwood finishing second in expert men and Alyssa Rogan coming third in masters 4.
Harris finished more than a minute behind Canberran Rebecca McConnell, who claimed her fifth straight elite women's title.
Harris said: “I am so stoked to be so close to a great rider like Bec.”
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