Si-am Juntakereket

The thought of riding across Australia is overwhelmingly daunting, even for the most seasoned endurance athlete. In Cornwall, though, a 13-year-old schoolboy looked at the map, shrugged his shoulders and started training for the challenge.

Bemoaning the amount of time youngsters spend on phones and electronic devices instead of exploring the world around them, Si-am headed off to Australia in March this year with this motto in mind – “Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.” And that’s exactly what he did.

Setting off from Foster, just north of Sydney, the Bodmin-based teenager, alongside former endurance athlete and now teacher, Bob Brown – who dropped out of the challenge halfway through – travelled 2,784 miles across some of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth.

Braving strong headwinds, ferocious temperatures that at times exceeded 40C and the omnipresent threat of road trains, Si-am arrived in Perth 29 days later, beating the previous record by a child by 16 days.

One day he suffered seven punctures, and also had to go to hospital for treatment for severe insect bites.

“It started off as a bit of a joke, I suppose,” says his stepdad Simon.

“It’s amazing really. Si-am was really into his running but he would get up at 6.30 before school and jump on his turbo trainer – which allows you to cycle indoors.

The dedication was amazing, I’m not really a cyclist, he did most of it off his own back.”

Celebrating his 14th birthday midway through his epic trip, Si-am was supported throughout the trip by his mum, Tania, who followed behind in a Land Rover, the pair spending most nights in a tent at the roadside.

“I would sit by my computer at home and they would call me up and tell me where they were,” says Simon.

“Then we could plan where they were going to go next.

"The fact that they were out there solo after the coach left them makes it all the more remarkable.

“It was arduous and gruelling but he kept his spirits high.

"Si-am is so pleased that he’s done it – he wants to keep on going.

"He’s an incredibly determined child.

"Someone has mentioned to him that there’s a cycle path across the whole of Canada so that’s his next plan.”

Si-am’s determination is simply awe-inspiring. It’s almost impossible to conceive the scale of this challenge, and to beat the record by so much is incredible. What an amazing young man.Pride of Sport judges

 

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