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The Mark Gunter Photographer of the Year Awards is driven by the desire to help others, with funds raised from entries going to two charitable causes. Over the four years of the competition, thousands of dollars have been raised for cancer research, and thousands more has gone to the assistance of young cyclists – a cause close to Mark’s heart.
This year, we received many moving, inspirational submissions from young cyclists around the world hoping for and in need of financial support. We were honoured to have Richie Porte, winner of the 2020 Tour Down Under, as the judge, determining who would be the recipient of the Young Cyclist Assistance Fund. This year, two grants of $1000 each were awarded.
After careful consideration, Richie chose to allocate the grants to:
Cesar is a junior cyclist from Bogota, Colombia, who has shown exceptional promise by winning the time trial and mountain jersey at the Clasica Raza de Campeones race in Boyaca, Colombia. In 2019, he showed his commitment to the sport by training and racing for three months in Spain, and is described by the person who nominated him as “a great kid: respectful, serious and dedicated.”
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Cesar’s work ethic extends beyond cycling. He comes from a financially disadvantaged background; his family was abandoned by his father when he was a child so Cesar works every day at a bakery after training to help support his mother and sister. By receiving the grant, Cesar will be able to take a little time off work to pursue his dream of becoming a professional cyclist and set up a comfortable future for his family.
In choosing Cesar as a grant recipient, Porte said “Cesar deserves the chance. He’s had to overcome a fair bit of adversity, and shown his intent by living abroad away from his family already.”
Keira Will is a talented 14 year old cyclist from Sydney, Australia. Despite her youth, she’s achieved a lot already – not just by winning races, but also supporting others as a club captain.
Keira plans to use the grant to pay for a personal coach to allow her to keep chasing her cycling dreams.
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Porte explained that the reason that Keira made a deserving recipient was that although only being 14 years of age, “it’s nice to see that she’s also putting back into the sport as a club captain, and has so much talent.”
Wade Wallace, founder of CyclingTips said, “Reading through and watching the applicants for this award is as agonising as it is fulfilling. Every last cyclist who applies or is nominated are not only deserving, but incredible young athletes full of determination and I wish we could give every last one of them some form of assistance.”
Leeanne Gatien, Mark Gunter’s wife, said: “Every single story is inspiring and deserving. And it makes selecting just two so difficult. I always love this part of the Awards – I feel so proud and grateful to everyone who has entered the competition, as you have all contributed to changing two young lives.”
Thank you to all nominees, and congratulations Keira and Cesar!