Horsfield relishing challenge of stepping into the unknown at Junior Pan Am Games
Robin Horsfield conceded he is stepping into the unknown ahead of competing at the inaugural Junior Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia.
The 21-year-old mountain bike cyclist is part of the 11-member Bermuda team, also consisting of road cyclists Kaden Hopkins, Conor White and Nicholas Narraway, sailors Benn Smith and Adriana Penruddocke, swimmers Finn Moseley and Myeisha Sharrieff, tennis player Daniel Phillips and triathlete Nicholas Pilgrim, who will be competing in South America, starting tomorrow until December 5.
While Horsfield is relishing the challenge of representing the island on the international stage, he admitted it is difficult to place any real expectations on himself with no knowledge of either the level of competition, or course, he is due to face.
“I’m really excited about competing in the first Junior Pan Am Games, but I know I’m also facing a lot of unknowns,” he said. “I haven’t seen the course as yet but I’m expecting it to be very technical and so I’m excited for that.
“It’s also hard to know who will be turning up to compete and so it’s hard to know the level of competition I’ll be up against.
“Obviously I’ve competed in a number of Caribbean Championships in the past and so I know some of those guys but for instance, the current world champion is a Chilean rider called Martín Vidaurre, and so if he is competing then it is going to be full on World Cup level.
“With it being a mass start event, anything can happen and that makes it a lot more exciting, we’ll just have to see what happens but I’m looking forward to it for sure.”
Despite having little prior expectations ahead of the Games, Horsfield is heading to Colombia with the same mentality as he would with any major event.
“Obviously I’d love to say I’m targeting a top-five position, which would be great, but unfortunately it’s not quite that simple with all the unknowns,” he added. “However, I’m hoping to do pretty well and I’ll be giving it my all.
“I’m going into it expecting a really fast and tough race and so that is what I’m mentally preparing myself for. If I prepare myself by expecting the toughest race possible then anything less than that is great.
“It could be an extremely technical course and so with the mass start it’s crucial to get off to a good start and ride as hard as possible to get a good position early on.
“Obviously the uncertainties add another mental element to preparations but I’m just trying to prepare as best as I can, focus on myself and remain positive.
“This is probably the biggest opportunity I’ve had to represent Bermuda and so that in itself is really exciting. I’m always proud to represent the island and so I’m really excited about the Games.”
In what has been a highly disrupted domestic season for Horsfield, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he can take great confidence from a number of encouraging performances in the months building up to the Games.
None more so than in a career-best performance competing in the final of the Canada Cup in Canmore, Alberta, in October. In spite of a reduced field because of Covid-19 regulations and the race being held late in the calendar, the majority of Canada's top riders were still in attendance, including national champion and Olympian Leandre Bouchard.
Despite facing the nation’s elite riders and a challenging rocky mountain course, Horsfield battled his way to an impressive fourteenth place overall finish. He is now hoping to build on that encouraging foundation in Colombia.
“I’ve had some really encouraging form towards the end of my season and things had definitely been looking up,” he added. “These Games have come unusually late for a mountain bike season and so it has been a little tricky to keep fitness up in what would normally be my close season.
“However, everyone has gone through the same thing and hopefully I can just keep building on the foundations of my recent encouraging form.”