Inducted into MNZ Hall of Fame: 2019
Katherine Prumm was born in South Africa in 1988 and moved with her family to New Zealand in 1995. Motocross was always part of Prumm family life with mum Helen, dad Eric, younger brother Matthew and Katherine all riding. The family lived for Motocross.
Prumm competed against the men on an equal footing, no favours asked or given, all the time aiming towards the highest level of the sport. Many people remember the day at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville that she took two holeshots out of three starts in the MX2 class, finishing the day in the top 10 overall.
In 2005, the FIM Women’s Motocross World Cup was created, the forerunner to the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship which was established in 2008.
Here was the chance for a first taste of international top level racing. The 17-year-old would make a remarkable European debut, finishing second behind German Stephanie Laier.
Encouraged by that success, 2006 saw Prumm return to Europe, this time taking out the number one spot. At age 18, she was the best in the world in women’s Motocross.
Winning the World Cup was something, holding on to it was another thing all together. Returning to Europe for the 2007 season to defend her title, this time wearing the number one plate, Prumm knew all eyes were on her and there was a target on her back. Again showing her skill and determination, she repeated her previous year’s success by winning the Cup a second time. In addition, she headed to the USA to compete for the US National Women’s Motocross Cup Championship in Texas, adding that title to her 2007 international campaign.
Life was good. Prumm was two-time Women’s World Cup Motocross Champion and looking to her next challenge – a hat trick.
Her 2008 campaign began well when she signed with Yamaha. A pre-season crash left her riding with a ruptured ACL knee ligament, but Prumm still led the championship after three of the five rounds. With only two rounds to go, she looked odds-on favorite to win her third world title. Then disaster struck. A training crash only days before round four saw her out with a badly broken collarbone, leaving her to finish fifth in the title chase.
Never one to let an injury put her off, plans were hatched to be back in Europe for the 2009 season. However those plans were scrapped even before she left New Zealand. Prumm mis-timed a jump in a training session, landing heavily and head-first down a three-metre bank. Her bike crashed on top of her and her back was broken in three places. While it was feared she might never walk again, she eventually made a full recovery but her Motocross days were over.
Happily married (hence the change in last name) and although no longer involved with Motocross, Katherine is still heavily involved in elite sport.
She graduated university with a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science and then completed a Masters degree. She now works as a physiologist for High Performance Sport New Zealand where she plays a key role helping the current generation of elite Kiwi athletes.
Written for MNZ Copyright © 2019 Ian Dawson FastKiwiMedia