Family hold high hopes for cyclist

19:30, Aug 05 2012

Kiwi track cyclist Simon van Velthooven should be optimistic when he races in the men's keirin tomorrow after his performance in the team sprint, his Marlborough grandfather says.

The Kiwi trio of Ethan Mitchell, 21, Eddie Dawkins, 22, and van Velthooven, 23, rode a personal best time of 43.495sec in the men's team sprint on Friday, missing out on a medal by two tenths of a second.

Van Velthooven's grandfather, Wim van Velthooven, said the race was an impressive performance from the young, inexperienced Kiwi team competing against teams such as gold-medal-winning Britain and silver-medal-winning France, who both raced in world-record times.

"It's a hell of a race competing against the best in the world. For a young team like the one Simon's in to come that close is quite an achievement. He's only been in the sprint team six to eight months." The keirin was a speciality for Simon who raced in the tough Japanese Grand Prix league in which he was known by his nickname "Rhino", Mr van Velthooven said.

He finished third in the world championships in Melbourne in April, but was demoted for crowding out another rider.

Mr van Velthooven and his wife, Riet, who are also keen rowing supporters, had a tense night with about three hours' sleep between watching Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen win gold and getting up to watch Simon. "It was quite an exciting time for us. We got up at 2.30am [for the cycling] and went to bed at 6am, so we were struggling through the day."

The couple faced a second late night watching Hamish Bond and Eric Murray in the men's pair on Friday night before taking a few days to recover ahead of the keirin, which starts at 9pm tomorrow.


The Marlborough Express