Date: Saturday, 28 April 2012
Posted by: Cycling Southland

Eddie and Simon at Festival of Speed

Few people would have marked a young Eddie Dawkins down as a future Olympian during his early days at Kew Bowl writes The Southland Times' Nathan Burdon.

His naming in the New Zealand team for the London Olympic Games yesterday should offer hope to all out there that one can still achieve great things without being a child prodigy.

Of course, the opposite holds true.

Youthful genius can sometimes do more to get in the way of a career than it does to promote it.

It reminds me of a Cyril Connelly quote that resonates for a sports reporter: "Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising."

New Zealand has named a strong lineup for the Olympics. It was genuinely a case of having to find reasons to leave people out, rather than reasons to include them.

Don't discount the tenacity required for a rider like Dawkins, who found his specialist event – the 1000m time trial – cut from the Olympic programme at a time when he was making it his own.

To recreate himself as a world-class sprinter and genuine talent in the second wheel position of the men's team sprint has taken a fair amount of determination.

The New Zealand sprint programme in general has been a revelation in cycling, with the men coming from nowhere to be on the cusp of the podium at major events (if you accept that the bronze at the world championships was a result of a healthy dose of good fortune).

London will probably come a tad early for the sprinters, with Rio in four years time shaping as their proving ground.

In the absence of the kilo and the individual pursuit, New Zealand's focus has quite rightly switched to the team pursuit for the men and women.

With Great Britain and Australia dominating, New Zealand is effectively racing for bronze.

A medal in the women's team pursuit is a definite possibility, as it should be with Alison Shanks in the team, while Shane Archbold won silver at the 2010 world champs in the omnium.

Simon van Velthooven has been a big mover during the past 12 months and will back up from the team sprint in the keirin, an event that can turn into a lottery by its rough-and-tumble nature.

New Zealand may have named its strongest-ever track team for the Olympics, but it is competing in a very crowded market.

For every gain it makes, there are other nations just as hungry for success.

Article courtesy of The Southland Times

 

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