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Heading for Stardom

Josiah Natzke

maddix park mx


It's hard to know what motivates Josiah Natzke.

At first you think it's the speed, but that's not it. He's never been a person that needs to go fast. It doesn't give him a rush.

Next guess? Maybe it's trophies?

A quick look through his garage disproves that theory, given one of his many trophies, won in the United States, is a home to a large collection of dust and cobwebs.

In fact, that particular trophy has turned into a makeshift shelf for nuts and bolts.

This is the youngest ever 125cc open class New Zealand champion, having taken out the title earlier this year at only 15.

So, if it isn't speed, and it isn't trophies, what is the inspiration?

Natzke said his inspiration has changed over the years, but it all started when his father, Chris, purchased his first dirt bike.

"As a kid, a bike with a motor, it's just a buzz," Natzke said.

"[The motivation] changes over the years, and you like to do it more and more, and it becomes a different sort of buzz as you get older.

"It was just a fun thing to do back then, but I think it's now becoming a career and a job, so I have to do it for fun. If I'm not enjoying it then I'm not going to do it, so I love doing it."

When taking up a hobby or a sport, some dive in and give it everything they've got.

The goal is to perfect the art, to be the best there is. They won't rest until they are top of their game.

Natzke is one of those people.

He used to be a student at Hamilton Boys' High School, but now studies via correspondence at home.

It allows him more time to work on his motocross, and not just the craft of riding a bike, but the athletic side of the sport as well.

Many people think motorsport is all about the car, or the bike, but these guys are certified athletes.

Yes, they know how to drive their machine and how to go fast, but their bodies have to be in top shape to make that machine go at speed.

Formula One drivers, for instance, are often as fit as marathon runners, but with better core strength.

It's something Natzke is only just learning, and at 15 he's got plenty of time to bulk up, giving him better control of his bike.

His mentor and coach, Kiwi motocross legend Ben Townley, stressed the importance of the sport's the physical aspects.

"For him to start achieving his goals, the next step is to start achieving internationally," Townley said.

"Although he's showed some flashes of it, the next 12 months is going to be the making of him, really.

"The biggest thing for Josiah for his international plan in the next 12 months is to really work on his physical conditioning.

"Skillset, actually on the motorcycle, Josiah is actually at a really high level and I've worked really hard with him on that over the past summer.

"But there's a lot of physical conditioning, big gains for him to make, especially this summer, so that'll be interesting. He's got a lot of hard work ahead of him, and he knows it."

Natzke works out in his garage using a TRX suspension system, surrounded by his bikes.

Those physical gains will help him kick on to the next level, and skill isn't going to be an issue at international competitions, according to Townley.

"I had a coaching set-up where I was looking at younger talent here in New Zealand, and went through quite a few riders," he said.

"He was one that I picked out to put some time and energy into for the future.

"He's absolutely gone leaps and bounds since we started working together.

"He has an underlying talent, obviously. On top of that he works really hard, he has a passion for it, and a very very big desire to achieve big goals and dreams, and that's something that stood out to me from the outset."

There has been an awful lot of sacrifice in Natzke's rise up the motocross ranks.

It comes from himself, first of all, but also from his family.

Mother Janine Natzke said the family often ends up driving to all corners of the country at weekends, transporting their talented son and his bikes to various events.

"It's all worth it. Worth every penny," Janine said.

"He started winning, he enjoyed it more and more, and now we're where we are. We just work our lives around it, I guess."

And it isn't always the moments on the bike which make the family most proud of Natzke.

Sometimes it's when he comes off, but gets back up. It's his maturity, his drive, the way he carries himself off the bike and the family name.

He's close to the perfect son, even if he sometimes doesn't put the dishes away.

"I guess there's been lots of proud moments," Janine Natzke said.

"Him winning the nationals this year was pretty exciting because he was the youngest one to ever win the senior 125cc.

"I guess a lot of the proud moments are when he falls off, but gets back up. Or if it's not going his way, and the way he behaves that speaks more to us than him always winning.

"But it is good when he wins."

Natzke is stepping up to a 250cc bike this year, and said it could take some time to get used to.

Winning another national title isn't top of the to-do list. Rather, he is looking to develop, get better, and get ready for a tilt at international trophies.

He's playing the long game, and he's got exactly the team around him he needs to succeed.

- Waikato Times

Click for the article and the video clip


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