Cycling Southland riders Jeremy Presbury and Liam Aitcheson have been included in a six-strong BikeNZ team for next month's Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.
The festival, from January 17 to 20, is expected to attract 1700 athletes, all under 18, from 30 countries across 17 sports.
It is a legacy programme born out of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, providing an Olympic-like experience across a number of sports in a village environment.
The BikeNZ track team is headed by three members of this year's successful team at the world junior championships, in the Southland pair of Presbury and Aitcheson and Auckland's Zac Williams.
They will be joined by the Marlborough pair of Callum Saunders and Quinn Karwowski and Auckland's Chad Elliston.
Aitchison won silver in the men's team pursuit while Presbury (Invercargill) was fourth in the final of the keirin and the team sprint with Williams.
Saunders won the recent road race honours at the national secondary school championships, while Karwowski took out the under-17 title.
Elliston won six medals at the national track championships and the under-17 title at the national criterium championships.
BikeNZ high performance director Mark Elliott said the event was a unique opportunity on two fronts.
"It is an excellent competitive situation against some of the best young track riders of their age on a very good indoor velodrome in Sydney. It is an invaluable experience in a multi-sport environment for our riders.
"As they move through to consideration for the Commonwealth Games and Olympics, being able to manage and thrive in this sort of environment is one of the keys to success."
London Olympians Eddie Dawkins, Lauren Ellis, Shane Archbold, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster all enjoyed their first taste of international success at past festivals. The New Zealand Olympic Committee will name the full team next week.
Meanwhile, New Zealand cyclist Linda Villumsen has set her sights on another Olympic campaign but the 27-year-old, who was squeezed out of an Olympic medal in the time trial at London by less than two seconds, wants to base herself in New Zealand for the foreseeable future, having withdrawn from the Australian-based Orica-AIS women's team for next year.
After seven years riding for several professional teams on the roads of Europe, the Danish-born Kiwi wants a settled base in her adopted country. She believes, with prudent planning, she can remain competitive internationally.
The four-time world championship medallist and Commonwealth Games silver medallist has her sights firmly fixed on further success on the world stage, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2016 Olympics.
The BikeNZ team is: Liam Aitcheson 17 (Alexandra); Jeremy Presbury 17 (Invercargill); Zac Williams 17 (Auckland); Callum Saunders (Blenheim); Quinn Karwowski (Blenheim); Chad Elliston (Auckland). Coaches: Ross Machejefski and John Rastrick; Jason McKenzie, manager.
- The Southland Times