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

Eddie Dawkins and Natasha Hansen - Photo courtesy of The Southland Times

Eddie Dawkins was out mowing the lawns when he found out he was an Olympian; Natasha Hansen was a bundle of nerves wondering whether she'd done enough.

The two Southland track cyclists were officially included in a 15-strong BikeNZ team for the London Games yesterday, a squad heralded as the biggest and arguably best assembled.

While winning medals against the likes of Australia and the formidable Great Britain lineups will be tough, there's plenty of hope that New Zealand can produce its best return from an Olympic Games.

Dawkins was a proud Southlander yesterday, following in the tyre marks of 2004 Olympian Matt Randall.

"It's huge. It's like the pinnacle of cycling and to reach at it such a young age, I'm still baffled by it and I'm sure the feeling will get more and more intense as we get closer to the Games."

Dawkins will ride the team sprint after winning bronze at the world championships at which Great Britain and Germany were disqualified.

Dawkins has spoken to Randall about what to expect at an Olympics. Training would take on an extra edge, particularly with two reserve riders continuing to push their claims, he said.

Being told of her selection by national women's sprint coach Stu McDonald was a bitter-sweet moment for Hansen.

Despite being included in the squad, her sprint team-mate Katie Schofield has been named as a reserve after a starting mistake from Schofield at the world championship cost the pair a chance of qualifying in that event for London.

"I would have loved to have been able to ride the team sprint with Katie," Hansen said.

"For me, I'm fortunate I was able to qualify in the sprint and the keirin.

"I'm viewing it in a positive light that the next 2 1/2 months all the resources will be going into making me a better sprinter and keirin rider."

The 22-year-old Invercargill air traffic controller was never confident she would be named in the Olympic team, despite making huge strides during the past year.

"The last two weeks have felt like forever and, to be honest, I was never holding my breath on going just because I knew I wasn't a medal contender for these Olympics as such because I was in the top three at world champs.

"I'm so excited and still just completely in shock.

"Six months ago this wasn't even a possibility but there's been a lot of hard work put in, not just by me but from my coach, Jerard Stock. It feels that much more satisfying, just because it's a complete shock to lots of people and myself."

Hansen has been included in the squad with a view to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"I think that without the added pressure, I think it's going to allow me to perform to my ability.

"This is a rare opportunity to be able to use this Olympics as a stepping stone to greater things in Rio.

"It goes without saying that I'll still go out there with the intent to win."

Meanwhile, Southland's Matt Archibald was one of the unlucky ones yesterday, with five riders going for three spots.

Archibald's outstanding season has lifted his reputation to the point where he has been able to limit his development role with Cycling Southland and begin training fulltime towards the next Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Article courtesy of The Southland Times


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