Rushlee Buchanan has decided it’s time to walk away from her career as a cyclist, finishing her years of racing professionally on the road and track by representing New Zealand in a third Olympic Games.
The 33 year old cyclist, who won New Zealand's road title four times, spent much of her career racing on the road in the US – from 2008 with Team Tibco before joining UnitedHealthcare in 2014 for five seasons.
“20 years ago when I stole my Dad's bike and rode it around the block I didn't even know professional cycling was a thing,” said Buchanan in a post on her Facebook page. “Now after 15 years of riding it like I stole it professionally, I'm officially retiring.”
At the end of 2018 Buchanan finished her long stretch racing for US-based teams and, while she still at times raced on the road with the New Zealand squad, her focus was on the track as the Tokyo Olympic Games approached. Buchanan – who has won four world championship medals on the track and silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games – came 11th in the Madison at her final Olympics in Tokyo.
It wasn't the result Buchanan had dreamed of, but after the Olympics she said she had realised that the dream that germinated as a 12-year-old was misconstrued, as failure or loss does not mean the journey was worthless.
“I still love the sport, and am grateful I can step away with gratitude,” said Buchanan in her retirement post. “It has always been my choice to live the high performance lifestyle, and each year since starting I actively chose to keep dedicating my life to pursuing my potential in the sport. My family and friends are the ones who made "the sacrifice," and I will always be grateful for their help.”
“I'm not sure what's next but I'm choosing to remember my career as a journey; there was no single moment that defines it – rather a fun mix of successes, challenges and learnings. The tough moments often provided me with the most valuable learning and growth.”
Buchanan – who on top of her road title success has also won the New Zealand Criterium Championships four times and the time-trial title once – is an athlete Cycling New Zealand said would be sorely missed.
“Rushlee has been a major force in our sport for over a decade, and her palmares speaks for itself,” Cycling New Zealand CEO, Jacques Landry said in a statement. “Off the bike, it’s been a great pleasure to have her contribute immensely, as chair of the Athletes Voice Committee.”
“Given all that Rushlee has contributed to cycling in New Zealand, there is no doubt she will continue to help grow the sport in different ways. She epitomises a successful high performance athlete – driven, committed, hard-working and talented on the bike and with professionalism and good nature off it. She is that wonderful mix of being an extremely popular teammate who is always a fierce competitor.”
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