Class Act: Otago Boys’ High School
James Gardner won the national road cycling championships.
The 17-year-old has enjoyed success in both road cycling and mountain biking,
When not on his bike, James works in a bike shop or works hard at school in his efforts to become an engineer, an interest he discovered through cycling.
Road cycling and mountain biking are different disciplines, each requiring specific training and a disciplined approach to the many aspects associated with the demands of each bike, terrain and race.
The competitions can be intense, but he finds it important to learn from each experience.
He credits much of his success to his attitude of learning, balancing on and off the bike, and mental and physical preparation, which was ingrained in him by his mentors, the local equestrian community and the Otago Academy of Sport.
He believes the most important thing is to enjoy being on the bike.
If he’s having fun, the results follow.
In July, he traveled to the United States to compete in the Intelligentsia Cup in Chicago with the MitoQ NZ Cycling Project team.
Achievements: New Zealand National U19 Road Cycling Champion (2022); U17 individual time trial champion (2021); New Zealand National Criterium Cycling Championships (2021); U17 National Champion (2021); Cycling New Zealand National Road Series U17 National Champion (1st Crit, 1st ITT & 1st Zwift) (2021); MitoQ New Zealand Cycling Project Team (2020-2022); HPSNZ Otago Academy of Sport Year 3 Athlete (2020, 2021, 2022); Otago Sports Emerging Talent Finalist (2022); Fight For Yellow 2 Day Stage Tour – A Grade Overall Winner Overall Ranking (2022); NZ Criterium U19 National Cycling Championships 5th (2022); Southland Festival of Cycling Gore to Invercargill 1st overall (2022); Dunstan Lake Road Race 96km 2nd overall (2022); YUNCA Junior Tour of Southland – U17 overall runner-up (2021); New Zealand U19 Junior Development, Yunca Tour of Southland (2021); Excellence level 1, 2 (2020, 2021); Academic Blues (2021, 2022); year 12 first in physics (2021); first year 12 in metallurgy (2021); Commendations (2020, 2021).
Role models: His cycling mentor Chris Henderson, for putting him on the right track and making sure he doesn’t forget to have fun.
Hopes for the future: To study engineering and continue cycling.
Whether out in the wild or as a community organizer, Max Cunninghame always seems to know the right way to go.
The 17-year-old passed orienteering and spent his teenage years striving to help others.
When Max was around 5 years old, their grandfather would take them to parks and forests and the couple would find where they were.
Their love of orienteering grew from there and now Max’s skills are bringing success.
Orienteering involves a lot of concentration and mental ability, as well as the physical strength to keep up.
Each race can range from a few kilometers to around 10 km.
They find it’s a good mix of physical and mental abilities that they enjoy.
It’s a personal racing style where you can’t see what other competitors are doing, so all you can do is worry about doing your best.
They have participated in South Island teams and national tournaments.
Max considers it a bit long, but hopes to one day do orienteering for a national level team.
In addition to orienteering, Max spends time as an adventurer, helping plan and lead outdoor activities.
It was a great way to learn new skills and build community with like-minded people.
Max is also involved in community service, which started with Boy Scouts where they worked on beach cleanups and conservation.
More recently, Max served on the Dunedin Youth Council, where they helped make things like a multi-day arts festival a reality this year.
Max started the school’s LGBTQ+ group, which meets regularly to discuss issues and helps make the school a safer place for students.
They loved helping the community, but it was also a way of giving back the kindness they had shown when they were younger.
When Max was 9, they had brain surgery and last year knee surgery.
They spent a lot of time outside of school and wanted to both make up for those lost opportunities and repay the people who had supported them by creating new opportunities for them.
Achievements: South Island orientation team (2019-2022), National long orientation U14 2nd (2019), average U18 (2022); Otago School Championships 1st (2019, 2020, 2022) 2nd (2018), South Island Long & Medium Championships 2nd (2019); level 1 ski instructor (2021); Otago Ski Club’s Best Junior Skier (2020, 2022); Otago discussing the development team (2022); Faigan Memorial Literature Prize (2021); chief service prefect (2022); Opoho Venturers Executive, Chairman (2019-2022); Dunedin Youth Council Executive, Chairman (2021-2022); Coastal Otago Venturers Board Member (2020-2022); LGBTQ+ school coordinator (2022); Statistics Fellowship (2021); Biology Olympiad (2020); Excellence level 1, 2, 3 (2020, 2021).
Model: Their teacher Mrs. Yeoman.
Hopes for the future: To study Statistics and English at the University of Otago.