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Born in 1889, O’Shea’s quiet, unassuming persona was juxtaposed by an extraordinary athletic ability. He won every track and road cycling title he set his mind to, during a time when competitive cycling was one of the world’s most popular sports. The hallmarks of O’Shea’s career were the amazing speed with which he rose to the top and the length of time he stayed there. Within two years of entering his first race in 1909, he had become road champion of New Zealand – and Australasia. A decade later, nothing had changed.
He went to Australia and won their road championships three years straight. After 1923, he concentrated on track racing. Champions from around the world were imported for O’Shea to compete against in front of home crowds. He was the greatest all-round cyclists New Zealand has ever produced.