A couple of years ago Pieter Bulling's cycling career was on the skids, now the Southland rider is eyeing a shot at the Olympics in Rio in 2016.
Bulling has been named in a 10-strong BikeNZ team to contest next month's opening World Cup event in Manchester and he'll also be part of a 17-strong team for the Oceania Championships being staged on his home track later in November.
That's despite injury and form issues over the past two years, including a self-imposed exile from the bike in 2011 when he opted to pull out of the New Zealand team for the junior world championships in Moscow.
Even after recovering from a hip injury which saw him step away from the sport, he was struck by tonsilitis during his second campaign with the BikeNZ endurance team in Europe during winter.
"That was hard for my head, just my personal motivation. I did the Tour of Germany and did really well and things have just been on the up since then. I came home and got into good track form, breaking PBs [at] every quality track session."
Bulling is considered the most improved rider in the BikeNZ stable.
Working under new coach Craig Palmer and strength and conditioning coach Simon Jones, Bulling looks ready to fulfil the promise he showed when he dominated his way through the age groups.
"This has been my goal, to get into the squad, make the [team pursuit] team for the next four years leading into Rio. It starts now," he said.
"I had a chance three years ago when I went to the World Cup in Melbourne as a second year junior. That's when I first saw the big scene as an elite. Ever since then I've wanted to go to another one and now it's finally happened."
BikeNZ head coach Dayle Cheatley said Bulling had done everything asked of him.
"He's really stood up, not just here but the whole season. We had a big campaign in Europe this year to build some engines and he's come out of that really well. This last 10 days on the track he's put his hand up and said pick me, and that's what we've done."
Bulling had done especially well to overcome the trials and tribulations which can derail a rider, Cheatley said.
"That's perseverance really, isn't it? He's worked on those individual work-ons and it's paying rewards for him now.
"I think he'll have a good season. His strengths are his ability to ride the track. He's grown up with this facility here and has probably done more laps of this velodrome than most people, and that's shown.
"The way he rides the track, the way he delivers his power on the track, you can see it."
Twenty-six riders have been involved in the BikeNZ camp at the SIT Zero Fees velodrome, but only 10 will travel to Manchester and 17 will be involved at the Oceania championships when women's endurance and sprint teams join the fold.
The opening World Cup meet was a good chance for Bulling, 20, and Dylan Kennett, 19, to gain experience in the new-look pursuit lineup, as well as secure valuable qualification points, Cheatley said.
"We aren't expecting to go out and set the world on fire here, but it's a good progression throughout the whole season and this is the first phase of it."
There were some tough calls to make during selection, with the likes of Cam Karwowski unlucky.
"To be fair, all the riders came into this camp knowing that it was a really important phase and they all came in at the top of their game. While guys have improved and produced a lot of PBs, it still wasn't good enough when everyone else was producing PBs."
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