Enduro motorcyclist Katie Walker sets her sights on retaining British Championship (From Hereford Times)
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Enduro motorcyclist Katie Walker sets her sights on retaining British Championship
12:51pm Thursday 13th February 2014 in Sport
1407_1001 Katie Walker, Enduro motorbike rider & winner of the Ted Woodriffe award at the Herefordshire Sports Awards. (3919983)
LEOMINSTER enduro motorcyclist Katie Walker is ready to take on the world.
The 17-year-old, who is this year's winner of the Hereford Times Ted Woodriffe award, was the British Ladies Enduro champion in 2013, her first year in the competition.
And her success earned her a place at the final round of the European Enduro Championships in Portugal where she gained a podium finish, coming home in third and fourth places in the two races.
"I shall be trying to retain my British Championship in 2014," she said. "And I would also to take part in more European events as well as the World Championship.
"Some of the rounds take place as far away as Argentina, Hungary and Spain, so there is a lot of travelling and expense involved.
"My dad helped me with the expense and my sponsors, E T James and XXRockwheelXX have been very supportive."
With the encouragement of dad Nigel, Katie has been racing since 2007.
"My dad bought a bike and he got a little one for me at the same time," she said.
"I did a few local rounds and I really enjoyed it - my first one was a one-and-a-half-hour event on my 65cc bike. I tried motocross but it wasn't for me."
She has gone on to take British Championship honours on several occasions in past youth Hare 'n Hound series.
Endurance racing involves not just the skill of riding the motorcycle, it also requires the rider to be able to maintain the bike during the race.
So, it would be reasonable to expect that Katie's studies at the Hereford and Ludlow College might be related to her sport.
The truth is rather different.
"I go to college three days a week to study hairdressing," she said. "A lot of people are surprised when they hear that."
She also has to work hard at her physical fitness to cope with the demands placed by an arduous sport.
Enduro riders compete for up to six or seven hours per day, non-stop, over challenging forest and moorland tracks.
"I go to the gym every day if I'm not racing or off practising," she said. "I'm on my bike every weekend and go up into the forests in Wales to practise."
The countdown to the new season has already begun with local events now getting underway before the British and European Championship rounds start at the end of March.
And Katie knows that she will certainly not have a clear run to retain her British title.
"My main rival is Jane Daniel, who is 20, and the other riders are aged 18 and upwards so I am the youngest," she said.
"But I shall be going all out to retain the British Championship."
The Ted Woodriffe award is presented annually by the Hereford Times to a promising young sportsman or sportswoman.
The award commemorates the paper's former sports editor who filled the role from 1959 to his retirement in 1991.
Previous winners include golfer David Park, Luctonians director of rugby Alex Davidson and World Superbikes rider Chaz Davies.