BEN SHAW - NIAS Male Athlete of the Year

At just 13 years old, Benjamin Shaw has been named the Northern Inland Academy of Sports’ (NIAS) Male Athlete of the Year.

Ben has had a spectacular year in the Mountain Biking scene, with several highlights including being selected for the exclusive NSW Institute of Sport’s (NSWIS) Pursu32+ program – a development/pathway program for potential Olympians leading into 2032.

“I’ve been riding bikes for about eight years, when I first started off it was all about fun on a little bike and I’d do some jumps and stuff, I wasn’t really thinking that I would be racing and going professional. Then when I was about six or seven, Dad started doing more riding for fitness and I’d go to the mountain bike park with him, this is when I started to enjoy it more,” Ben said.  

“As we started joining in with the Tamworth Mountain Bike Club, we saw the kids that were really good and developing were with NIAS – so I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. 
“I train a lot, recently I’ve ramped it up and I have a private coach again and I’m starting to do a lot more training leading up to the national series. I ride about 5x days a week and that consists of longer endurance rides that might go from 2–3 hours on a road bike to some more off-road stuff after school or on weekends.” 
“In Tamworth we have club races at the mountain bike park and cycling centre, (and track training on Tuesday night at the velodrome) and on Tuesday we have a Tuesday night track where we train,” Ben said. 
Ben’s training is cross-discipline, including mountain-biking, road and track cycling. 
His experience at the NSWIS Pursu32+ camp provided Ben access to a range of professional development tools including nutrition education, performance planning, fitness testing and other skills for an athlete to achieve their Olympic goals. 

“I really enjoyed the camp, it was so good to connect with other people from different sports and hear all about the journeys they have been through, hearing how they got started… I enjoyed learning all the different ways I could advance my performance in the future,” he said. 
“I hope this journey takes me to the Olympics – of course. I’m hoping to go overseas and join a professional mountain biking team in the future,” he said.  
Ben is in his first year of high school, and life outside Mountain Biking looks much like any other teenager. He rides motorbikes with his friends, plays rugby for school and enjoys being outdoors with his mates and family doing watersports at the dam. On his rest days, Ben hits the gym for training. 

“If you’re good at a sport – just do it! If you have a talent – use it! Some of my best mates have been made through mountain biking, it’s a great sport and it gets you outside,” Ben said. 

Ben achieved podium finishes at all six rounds of the Auscycling MTB XCO (cross country) National Series, held at locations across the country and taking out the title of U15’s male champion for the series. He attended his first Auscycling Mountain Bike National Championships, held at Thredbo and again secured podium finishes in the U15’s XCO (cross country) and XCR (cross country relay team) events. 

He also competed with international riders at the Oceania MTB Cross Country championships held in Qld, placing first in the U15’s male category. 
He is hoping to round out a successful year next weekend when he competes in the Auscycling NSW MTB XCC and XCO State Championships being held in Nowra. As the U13’s champion last year, Ben is hoping to secure U15’s champion for 2023.