Dawkins ready to gear up for Rio Games

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 16/08/2012
Eddie Dawkins
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

WELCOME HOME: Southland Olympian Eddie Dawkins is met by girlfriend O’Leah Black and puppy Winston at Invercargill Airport yesterday.

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An exhausted Eddie Dawkins was the first Southland Olympian to arrive home yesterday and his focus is already on Rio 2016.

Dawkins rode second wheel for the New Zealand team sprint squad which finished fifth at the London Olympics, breaking their own national record along the way.

Much has been made of the rapid progress the BikeNZ men's sprint programme has made over the past two years.

However, it should only be an entree to what the young squad can produce over the next four years.

"It was a learning experience for us [in London] and next time we will be seasoned vets," Dawkins said.

"[Rio] will be huge; it's four years more experience, four years more training."

Dawkins was looking forward to a good break from the bike and the gym, including a holiday in Thailand with girlfriend O'Leah Black.

"I'm meant to stay off my bike for a while but you know me, we'll see, I'll probably be back in the gym tomorrow," he said.

Fellow New Zealand track sprinter Natasha Hansen will return to Invercargill next week, while swimmer Natalie Wiegersma is on holiday in the Netherlands.

Gold medal-winning double sculler Nathan Cohen and fellow Southlander Storm Uru, who claimed bronze in the lightweight double, will be involved in the Olympic parade in Christchurch on August 24.

With many of New Zealand's London Olympics contingent starting to arrive back in the country yesterday, plans for an Invercargill street parade to celebrate the medal-winning roles of Cohen and Uru and the achievements of Dawkins, Hansen, Wiegersma and rowers Louise Ayling and Jade Uru should start to gather momentum.

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- The Southland Times

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