‘National quad biking champion’ is an unusual title for a 20-year-old woman but it’s one Karratha’s Teniel Morgan can rightfully claim.
“I never really planned anything, I just enjoyed it,” Morgan says.
But it is hard to believe a young woman with a national title under her belt at 20 did n0t plan anything.
Morgan is a young achiever determined to make her name in a non-mainstream sport desperate for backing.
At 15, Morgan asked her father for a RX 250 Honda quad bike after getting bored of watching her brother race motocross.
“I just got sick of watching at the [racing] track,” she says.
Her bike was too small to race but she practised for a year until she could get a 450 – which was big enough.
Morgan said she had mixed feelings when she first started racing.
“It’s exciting but it’s scary and as you do it more, the excitement stays and you get more confident,” she says.
She lost many times and had several crashes but kept persevering.
Her brother, Blake Morgan, confessed he was a little jealous of his sister starting to race but that soon changed.
“When I saw she had true potential I stood behind her 100 per cent,” he says.
“I brag about her title all the time.”
In her home town of Karratha, Morgan competes against males and females because there is not enough women and girls to race.
She says most boys have had no problems with her racing – even when she started beating them – but some were not so accepting.
“I had a few guys who came out, raced once and never came back again,” she says.
Morgan says she hates the fact there is a gap between the men’s and women’s racing classes. She says that is the reason for the lack of competition in the females’ class.
“I think if there were more girls doing it, it would be more competitive,” she says.
She hopes Western Australian women and girls will close the gap but says it will take time.
“The boys don’t think so but we are going to catch them,” she says.
Jaylie Maddaford has known Morgan since high school and describes her as very determined.
“If she wants something she will have it,” Ms Maddaford says.
Morgan wanted a national title and worked for that by competing in three Northwest seasons in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
“In 2010 I won the pro open, which is the A-grade men in the northwest,” she said.
“I then won the women’s state title and the women’s Australian title.”
While preparing for the Australian title, Morgan trained six times a week – three times a week with the personal trainer; twice a week riding, and racing once a week.
“It was pretty full on,” she says.
Although excited about winning the national title, she is already looking to another goal.
“You work really hard to get somewhere and when you finally get there you think, ‘what’s next?’” Morgan says.
She has one answer to that question: “Having a go at a world title.”
Her next goal is to go to the United States and race the American Motocross Association title and All-Terrain Vehicle Nation title.
“It pretty much counts as a world title because that’s where everyone goes,” Morgan says.
She says the 12 rounds over six months across various states will be the hardest thing she has ever done.
“The girls are fast,” she says.
“It’s like a whole other level.”
However, she acknowledges that is the level she will need to be at.
After winning the Australian title, Morgan says there is no one else in her class in Australia who can beat her.
“I need to go overseas to challenge myself,” she says.
Blake, and Morgan’s father Shane, are both involved in her training and preparation.
Blake says the interaction allows the family to connect and learn from each other.
“I learn from her about determination, dedication and fitness while she learns from me about race lines, bike skills and confidence,” he says.
Morgan has also taken an unconventional approach to her work.
When she graduated from year 12 she knew she did not want to go to university but did not know what she wanted to do.
She started scanning the newspapers for an apprenticeship.
“I did a bit of research and found out that an instrumental electrician is the best apprenticeship you can do,” she says.
“It’s the highest pay, and it’s a clean job.”
So she applied for an apprenticeship at Woodside in Karratha where she is now in her third year.
She says that starting the apprenticeship was more terrifying than any of her races.
However, she said she settled in quickly and gets along with the tradesmen she works with who do not make it easy for her because she is a girl.
“They expect I do the same as anyone else which is what I want and they treat me the same as the boys,” she says.
This year Teniel broke her wrist while racing in Newman and has not been able to race the 2011 Pilbara, state and national rounds.
“It’s been a bit of a dud year,” she laments.
She has no doubt however that she will compete again once her wrist has healed.
“I’ll come back next year,” she says.
Her father Shane agrees, saying Morgan will always race quad bikes.
“Once it’s in your blood it’s there to stay,” he says.