Just four short years ago, Lise Benjamin was more familiar with a surfboard than a bicycle, and yet earlier this month she managed to take out the World Masters Track Cycling Championships in the 50-54 age bracket.

It’s a testament to her determination as a sportswoman. Possibly some of the credit must also be given to the friendly coaching provided by former Olympian Michelle Ferris.

For a woman who is competing in her first season of competitive cycling, Benjamin isn’t doing badly. She took home four gold medals from this year’s World Masters for the 500m time trial, the 2000m pursuit, the 10,000m points race and the 250m lap sprints.

It was an unexpected feat even for the woman herself, who said that while she was confident going into the race, she hadn’t expected to dominate every awards podium.

I didn’t cycle when I was a kid, but a friend of mine who was in Spokes used to be my surfing buddy until she took up cycling. I decided that maybe if I took up cycling I might get my buddy back. So she bought a new bike and I got her spare mountain bike and she used to take me cycling whenever possible.

Five years on and Benjamin wasn’t looking back, but enlisted the help of her friend, former Olympic cyclist Michelle Ferris to get her into peak performance mode.

I saw Michelle compete in the Masters last year and thought it looked like pretty good fun, so it became my goal to get to the Masters.

Michelle and I had been acquaintances for a while and she used to say -˜well, when are you going to head out to the track?’. So I finally took her up on her offer of getting some help and she wrote up a program for me and came out to the track with me and showed me the ropes. Then I met some people cycling, who became my cycling buddies and it just snowballed from there, Benjamin told the Sydney Star Observer.

Heading into the competition I was expecting to get something, because there aren’t a lot of people in my age group, but I thought maybe I’d get one or two medals and was mainly hoping to just do good times and ended up doing really good times, Benjamin said with a still slightly incredulous laugh.

Now more determined as an athlete than ever, Benjamin has a series of regional cycling competitions lined up as well as training as a triathelete. She is already vowing to do better at next year’s Masters event.

I was addicted as soon as I started track cycling, really. I’m pretty new to this but I’m going to try and do as much as I can before next year’s event.

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