Katie Rushton looks to climb the cycling ranks as a member of the Accent Inn/Russ Hays cycling team.

Katie Rushton looks to climb the cycling ranks as a member of the Accent Inn/Russ Hays cycling team.

From the pitch to the pavement, field hockey player switches to cycling

Katie Rushton is switching gears as the former national team field hockey player is taking a crack at competitive cycling.

Katie Rushton is switching gears as the former national team field hockey player is taking a crack at competitive cycling.

Rushton was named to the Accent Inns/Russ Hays Cycling Team 2014 road racing team last week. She’ll be a rookie on the team racing scene but the 28-year-old former University of Victoria Vike and pro field hockey player has already showed great promise.

With little to no formal training she dusted the Cat. 4, entry level field, in the 2012 Metchosin Road Race. In 2013 she upped her training and finished first in the Cat. 3 criterium and second in the road race at the Race the Ridge series in Maple Ridge. Victoria’s Anika Todd, who exploded onto the cycling scene in 2013 with silver in the elite national time trial championship, was the only cyclist to beat Rushton in the Race the Ridge road race.

“Right now I just want to work hard and see how well I can do with this team,” Rushton said. “I’m looking forward to racing on a team and competing and pushing myself at Super Week (in Vancouver) where there’ll be a lot of tough competition.”

Racing with teammates is the first adjustment for Rushton. She joins Meghan Grant and Allie Guenther as the female contingent of the 16-member Accent Inns/Russ Hays team. All three are new to the program though Grant and Guenther have previous team experience, which Rushton hopes to learn from.

“During the season I’m always looking out for promising athletes and was aware of Katie,” said Accent Inns/Russ Hays general manager Jon Watkin. “She’d been racing for a while and doing well against other racers who’ve been at it for years.”

One goal of the Accent Inns/Russ Hays program is to support elite cyclists on their way up to bigger and better things while also providing a platform for local cyclists to race at the top of their category, and do it while holding down a career. Returning to the lead the team are a pair of veterans, 2013 national individual time trial champion Curtis Dearden, a Russ Hays bike mechanic, and the 2013 B.C. omnium track champion, Emile DeRosnay, a professor at UVic.

For Rushton, the competitive fire burns bright. She left the national field hockey team out of her own will as that sport pulled her in many directions but has by no means lost her motivation to compete.

“I started taking biking seriously about two years ago, right after I retired from the national field hockey team,” Rushton said. “I entered races right of the bat then raced more last summer and really enjoyed it. I’m a competitive person, I love sports, it was a natural progression.”

It’s one more discipline to the family’s sporting legacy in Victoria:  mom Brenda is an accomplished field hockey player; sister Andrea is a former UVic and Canada teammate of Katie’s; brother Eric played basketball for the Vikes and won provincial rugby chapmionships for the James Bay Athletic Association where dad Peter, also an ex-Victoria Shamrock, is the coach.

sports@vicnews.com

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