Simon van Velthooven’s Olympic bronze medal was the result of ‘‘sheer determination’’ says his dad Paul.
Palmerston North’s van Velthooven was third equal in the men’s keirin this morning (NZ time), finishing in a photo finish with Teun Mulder of the Netherlands.
Sky TV’s commentators originally thought van Velthooven had finished fourth but officials ruled he had finished at the same time as the Dutch rider.
Speaking from the velodrome Mr van Velthooven said watching the race with his wife Heather was difficult.
‘‘It was so hard to watch. He had his game face on and when we saw him a couple of days ago he was edgy so I knew he was in a great head space. It was just sheer determination.’’
‘‘I’m just so proud for all his hard work and effort that he has put into this. I absolutely thought he would do it. I’m over the moon.’’
He said he was unsure how they were planning to celebrate with their medal-winning son, but said they had ‘‘a cup of tea and a lie down to settle the nerves’’.
Van Velthooven’s coach Mike McRedmond said he feared the 23-year-old sprinter had blown his medal chances in the semifinal earlier this morning.
The Palmerston North rider was stuck at the back, wide and surely done for and McRedmond was screaming at the TV.
‘‘I thought he was gone for all money. It was just the speed the guy had to get around them to get up and qualify.
‘‘One thing about Simon, he’s a fighter, very focused. He was on fire today.’’ McRedmond fielded calls from all around the world, including one from van Velthooven while he was in drug control at the velodrome after the race.
Van Velthooven told him everything had gone so fast he couldn’t remember a lot except his frantic lunge at the line in the final and the noise of the crowd.
McRedmond got emotional when he reflected on the 12 years he he had worked with van Velthooven and team pursuit bronze medallist Jesse Sergent.
‘‘It’s an Olympic medal and in any event that’s big. And for Manawatu cycling to have two bronze medals at an Olympics is really outstanding.’’
Van Velthooven reminded McRedmond of all the graft done at Manawatu’s only track. ‘‘To go from Johnston Park [in Feilding] to an Olympic velodrome to win bronze is testimony to all the laps at Johnston Park,’’ McRedmond said.
After the Olympics Van Velthooven will return to the Japanese keirin circuit before the World Cup events later this year and the world championships next year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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