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29 August 2018 | in FISU World University Championships, Education, Cycling, FISU Athletes

Today's Star, Tomorrow's Leader: Liam Magennis

Aussie cyclist finds the perfect balance 


Balancing elite sports and academics is no easy task, but 21-year-old Australian cyclist Liam Magennis seems to have found a way to keep both wheels perfectly aligned. Coming off an extraordinary performance in the World University Cycling Championships that concluded earlier this month - where he finished 1st in the men’s individual time-trial and 3rd in the men’s road race - Magennis is now looking ahead to racing for Drapac Cycling back home in Australia and building up to the Australian National Championships in January 2019.


“I hope to target the criterium, the time-trial and the road race for wins,” he tells FISU after his successful outing at the WUC Cycling in Braga, Portugal.


He sets a high benchmark for himself and understandably so, after the excellent 2018 season that he has enjoyed. From finishing 2nd at the Oceania Time Trial Championships to topping the GC Tour of Mansfield, Magennis has gone from strength to strength, right up to his gold and bronze medals at the WUC Cycling. 


“Going to Portugal, I was confident of a good result,” he says. “I had put in some time racing with Drapac EF in Belgium, although I was not sure how well I would climb as most races in Belgium are very flat. The heat was also a major factor in Portugal.”


The WUC Cycling turned out to be an unforgettable experience for Magennis, not just the podium finishes, but also the social and cultural exchanges. 


“My week at the WUC was up there with one of the best weeks ever,” he says. “Socialising with other student athletes from all over the world, enjoying the experience of competing in a country like Portugal. The best thing about the World University Championships is creating friendships with people from all over the world.”


He strikes the perfect chord there, and it is easy to understand why he fits in neatly with the ethos at Drapac Cycling too. Drapac EF - or Education First – is a WorldTour cycling team competing at the highest level of the sport. What makes it unique is that each position on this team is awarded as a scholarship for holistic development. Athletes who display a natural orientation toward integrating cycling and meaningful pursuits outside sport, are the ones who are selected.


Magennis fits the bill. Even as he has his sights set on greater goals like riding for Australia at the World Championships, his larger life plan is also being mapped out at the same time.  


“I have a passion for animals, the outdoors and sustainability of our environment. One day I hope to work as a Park Ranger or within the Land Rehabilitation industry,” he reveals.


The young cyclist is studying for a Bachelor of Applied Science degree at Charles Sturt University and happily balances his cycling career and academics. He credits this to his family and also to supportive teams, both in cycling and in academics. 


“I have a supportive team at Drapac EF and CSU (Charles Sturt University) has also been very accommodating,” he says, thankfully. “The University runs an excellent elite sports program which assists and encourages many top athletes with their studies."


Magennis is the kind of student-athlete who embodies FISU’s motto of ‘Today’s Stars, Tomorrow’s Leaders’; elite athletes who are further empowered through education. The Park Ranger career may have to wait a few years though. He’s got big plans on the bike, for the moment. 


“Every cyclist has the dream to one day ride the Tour de France and very few get to achieve this goal,” says Magennis. “So I will just keep trying to improve, keep enjoying myself and will see where cycling takes me in the future.”


The future is a carte blanche, but Magennis describes it perhaps more sensibly as ‘a work in progress’.