YOUNG athletes often need someone to believe in them before they find that inner belief within themselves.
For cyclist Bronte Stewart that person was Wagga cycling identity Bob Robertson, who knew straight away she had the inner 'mongrel' to succeed.
At a junior state championships, Stewart proved her age or small stature wasn't going to be an obstacle.
"We had state titles here in Wagga, I was first year in under-11s," the now 17-year-old recalled.
"There was this one girl I knew could beat me, and Bob and I had this plan I was going to attack on a hill about a kilometre from the finish.
"I said to Bob 'I don't think I can do it', but he convinced me I could.
"I won and there's a photo of me with the biggest smile on my face. Bob saw that potential in me when I was eight, that's pretty cool."
Robertson, 76, held a number of roles at Wagga Cycling Club, most notably as coach for 23 years before he stepped down in 2015.
He said Stewart had the potential to do big things in the sport early on, and she has gone on to win selection in an under-19 national squad to compete in Europe next month.
She earned selection after racking up three top five finishes at this year's junior nationals, and also recently secured two podium finishes at the Oceania Championships.
"Bronte knew where she wanted to go and was determined to get there, and nothing was going to hold her back," Robertson said.
"Any time you raced against Bronte you knew you were in for a hard day, whether it's track or road racing.
"She was a little pocket rocket when she first started down there (at the club), with a little 20-inch bike.
"I knew Bronte wasn't going to give up. She wasn't a person who was just going to toss the towel in. She was only just starting but she blossomed so quickly."
She may have doubted her ability to pull off the race plan before winning that under-11 state title, but Stewart has thrived on proving the doubters wrong since.
A few years of being overlooked for squads in favour of city rivals only strengthened her resolve, and that determination is the cornerstone of her racing today.
"I've always had the drive for it. It was getting to the pointy end of the 15s and 17s when I felt like I experienced a few barriers with some of the coaches," she said.
"Not in Wagga, you face those people that try and put you down and get in your way.
"They've got their group of people who they want, and I wasn't in that. Now I kind of think it's funny because they told me I couldn't do it."
Robertson remembers one early race where that competitive drive came to the fore.
"At the halfway mark I thought she might be lucky to get third or fourth, but all of a sudden she went into overdrive, left them standing and won the race," he said.
"I thought 'this kid isn't going to give up'."
Stewart, now a Tolland Cycling Club member, said Robertson laid the foundation for her achievements to come.
A focus on making it fun, before giving cyclists keen to take it further the platform to do so, was his motto.
"He started everything where I am today. I owe it all back to Bob," she said.
"Once Bob left I went through a weird transition period, working out what I want and who's going to give that guidance.
"(Current coach) Jesse Featonby is like a new version of Bob, he's full of so much knowledge and I'm thankful for him.
"His take on cycling is so different to so many coaches. He has that structure, but he finds the fun in everything.
"That's what a lot of kids my age forget about, they're too focused on the outcome rather than enjoying the process. If you're not having fun, there's no point."
Robertson teared up when recounting his difficult decision to step aside from the club seven years ago.
"It was a very sad day when I told them I was retiring. The kids were all crying and I wasn't happy either, but I felt I couldn't keep doing it any more," he said.
"I appreciate Bronte still thinks of me to ask if I have photos (this week), that she still thinks of you and what you've done.
"She's not just forging ahead and you're not there anymore, I appreciate that."
Stewart is looking forward to learning the intricacies of European racing in a tour, competing away from home and testing herself in some big junior races, including the under-19 women's Ronde van Vlaanderen in Belgium.
"It's going to be such a massive learning experience. I'm sure I'll be faced with so many challenges when I'm over there," she said.
"I'm used to racing in a bunch of maybe 20, but there's over 120 riders on the start list for the first race over there.
"It depends on what kind of race it is (what my team role will be, but the first race would be right up my alley.
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