Meet the plaster supplier behind Aaron Gate's golden campaign

August 27, 2022

At the recent Commonwealth Games cyclist Aaron Gate made history as the first Kiwi athlete to win four gold medals.

Behind every one of his golden moments though is a successful training plan; one Gate usually reads and implements in Girona, Spain.

For the results it generated, one would assume a world-renowned coach or team of analysts may have crafted such a programme but it's actually written and devised in South Auckland by a man who's been Gate's personal coach for nearly 14 years – Simon Finnel.

“Without that input, he's had, I don’t know where I would have got to and I don’t think it would have been this level for sure,” Gate told 1News.

The thing is, Finnel isn’t a full-time cycling coach. He has an entirely separate career.

“We supply most of the plasterers in South Auckland,” Finnel said. “It's my main income.”

Under Finnel's guidance Gate has gone from a promising junior rider to a world-leading cyclist yet no money has ever changed hands – a status Finnel intends to keep.

“I never want to lose the passion behind it in lieu of payment and I know you can probably have both but I've already got a business and a job so I'm doing this for the reasons that make me happy.”

To that end, training programmes are shared online with Gate's bike feeding back data to Finnel although more importantly, the Birmingham champion also writes about the physical and mental parts of every ride.

“We capture data but I'm not a scientist,” Finnel said.

“I'm more of a creative and I enjoy the context from the holistic day.”

Health issues ended Finnel's sporting career but as a coach his creativity and ability to consider all the information get results.

READ MORE: Aaron GOAT: Cyclist wins 4th gold with road race sprint finish

Gate calls him an “eccentric guru” although his work falls outside high-performance funding.

When asked if he’d ever considered joining Cycling NZ to tap into their resources, Finnel said he’d thought about it but decided he was “far better suited to close relationships with key athletes”.

As such, he’s more comfortable in the wings watching his athletes shine on some of the sport’s biggest stages.

“These people come to you with their ideas, sometimes their dreams, sometimes their fantasies, and if you can get them to just make gains, then it doesn't matter what they are.”

If that's how he takes his payment, Golden Gate has paid handsomely.


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