Interview with Osborne

We caught up with Sam Osborne, the 24-year-old from Rotorua, New Zealand, to ask him about the XTERRA European Tour finale in Denmark and other random things…

XTERRA: When was the first time you raced XTERRA?
Sam Osborne: 2013 in Rotorua was my first time on the line, although things didn’t go all to plan that year. 2014 in Rotorua was the first time I finished an XTERRA.

XT: We understand your Dad has been running the coffee stand at XTERRA New Zealand for a long time.  That race has been growing in legend since 2003, even before Hamish Carter won it three years in a row.  Was your Dad there from the beginning?
SO: Yup, Dad is the man behind the machine at XTERRA NZ. I don’t think he was there from day one but very close, possibly after that first year. He’s been known to ditch the machine for the finish and when we come off the bike to give me a bit of a yell.

XT: There’s a big XTERRA crowd back home, it’s a recognized sport isn’t it?
SO: XTERRA at home is getting bigger and bigger every year. Kiwi’s historically love this kind of adventure sport so naturally its taking off. Hopefully after this year with me being over here there’s a few more young guys who are getting fired up for it. 

XT: How bad do you want to win one in Rotorua?
SO: Really bad!! That is huge goal for me next year is to win my home race. I got very close last year and this year I had a brilliant battle again with Braden Currie. I’m sure we’ve put on a good show Braden and I going head-to-head there but the show needs to end with me breaking that tape next year. 

XT: Let’s talk about breaking the tape next Sunday, how big would that be for you?
SO: It would be massive for me.  Before I came over to Europe this year I had said it was what I wanted to do over here.  Not sure if people thought that was a bit ambitious or not, but it was a big goal and now leading into Denmark I’m now faced with the possibility of pulling it off. 

XT: What’s it going to take?
SO: I’m going to really have to bring my A game to the table there. The thing is I’m not just racing Kris for the overall Tour, I’m racing a whole lot of other guys who all want to win that race on the day. I expect it to be a pretty fast aggressive race. This year the racing has become much more aggressive with a lot of attacking, and the way the course looks there this year it will just encourage that sort of thing.

XT: Let’s get to some lighter stuff.  Do you always pass out at the finish line?
SO: Haha, no…it has happened a couple of times, but it’s not common and I hope it doesn’t become frequent in races to come.  To take down a guy like Ruben though I think you have to be prepared to bleed out there (referring to last week in Germany).

XT: You did a couple races last year, but really got into it this year, why?
SO: Yea I only raced three off-road races over here last year but enjoyed all of them, so I thought why not give it a proper go this year. 

XT: Have you been a triathlete forever?  Did you come from athletic family?
SO: Both my parents were pretty active, Dad was a mad keen mountain biker and he actually wanted me to get into downhill. I ended up racing cross country when I was a junior and only made the switch to triathlon at high school when a couple of my teachers thought it would be good for me to have a crack at. 

XT: Favorite race?
SO: Would have to be my home race in Rotorua. I think the setting for that race is one of the best around and the course they’ve got going on there is just so good. I love racing at home as well, I spend a lot of time over here in Europe and you know there’s not a huge amount of support, no one really knows you that well, but racing at home everyone knows you and the support there is just unreal. 

XT: Most satisfying race?  Was it the win at Sweden last year?
SO: The win at XTERRA Sweden last year was awesome, it was my first XTERRA race out of Rotorua and I won it.  But, I think Euro Champs last weekend in Germany (second to Ruzafa in stacked field) and Sardegna Cross Tri Worlds (3rd) were probably more satisfying for me. I absolutely love this fast and close racing and with the fields being that stacked I live for that stuff. 

XT: How much fun are you having touring around Europe, outside of the racing?
SO: There hasn’t been a huge amount of exploring in between racing and I’ve been kept busy with my uni work in between that. The fun is with all the other guys on the tour, you see the same guys most races and we are all pretty good mates even if it is a bit of a dog eat dog affair out on the course. 

XT: Do people in Europe think you’re an Aussie or a Kiwi?
SO: Luckily I haven’t been asked that too many times, because when they do they almost get a smack. Although I’ve had the Aussie flag put on my number plate a few times here. NOTE: We have the red stars

XT: Can you do the haka?
SO: The haka is almost part of the curriculum in NZ…. but you need more than just one kiwi to pull it off.

XT: Do you have any rituals or good luck charms?
SO: Not so much, although I have a Tiki that was hand-sewn for me a few years back which I think is pretty cool.

XT: Do you have a nickname?
SO: Sammy is about as far as nicknames go for me. Nothing quite as cool as “The Caveman” or anything like that.  

XT: Well, let’s throw Bam Bam against the wall and see if it sticks.  Say, if you weren’t racing as a pro triathlete, what would you be doing?
SO: I’m still at uni over here while I’m racing studying math, still entirely unsure what I will do with that. I like the idea of teaching but it would be something with that degree. 

XT: Got any hobbies when you’re not racing?
SO: I’m quite into my coffee, probably enjoy making it more than drinking it. Dad’s got a fairly big reputation around Rotorua for his coffee and I think mine gives a good go. It is a bit of a running competition out at my parents’ bike shop and there’s a fair bit of banter over whose is better.

XT: How’s your road tri racing going, what are you up to for that?
SO: I haven’t actually done any of the ITU style racing since I’ve been over in Europe this year.  The Euro tour has so many races now it’s hard to do both. I’m still unsure how the season will pan out with it next year, but I’d say I will at least to a few back in the NZ summer, I still love that racing. I have been asked by my Bundesliga team to come back for next year, so we will see.  Probably a bit of that will depend on how the next two-months pan out for me.