NZ invited to party with Van Velthooven

MARK GEENTY IN LONDON
Last updated 21:30 08/08/2012
Fairfax NZ

Winning an Olympic medal hasn't quite sunk in for track cycling sprinter Simon van Velthooven but he is happy with his bronze and he's invited everyone to his place for a party.

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There's a party at Simon's place on December 22, and the whole of New Zealand's invited.

Simon van Velthooven, who dubbed his Olympic cycling keirin bronze as "the nation's medal", went a step further the morning after by issuing an open invitation to his overdue 21st bash at the family farm in Manawatu, between Palmerston North and Feilding. Now 23, his Olympic buildup had previously got in the way of any celebrations.

"It's been a few years since I've been home for an extended period and I've got to go straight to Japan from here and I'm there till mid-December. Last Christmas we sat down and mum and dad said 'you might as well have a big party after being at the Games then being in Japan for four months'. We locked in December 22, Saturday night before Christmas," he said.

"At the old farm in Manawatu, there'll be a big barbecue and a sheep on the spit and a few brews handed out. It's a 48 hour open home so anyone's invited."

Van Velthooven celebrated his medal in London with his parents, Paul and Heather, friends, and his cycling team-mates and coaches. "We had a few good yarns and reminisced about how nervous everyone was," he said of the endless wait before he was confirmed in a dead-heat for third with Dutchman Teun Mulder.

He was overwhelmed by the messages of support from home.

"It's crazy. There's so many people that follow sport and love sport and love exciting things. For them to see someone they know competing against the world's best... if I knew someone at the Olympics I'd be following them for sure.

"I didn't get much sleep; it's kind of hard to sleep when you're smiling. You just have a nap, wake up and think, shit, I won an Olympic medal. You have another nap, check some messages, have another nap, then it's only been 20 minutes and you think 'what do I do now?'"

Van Velthooven won't have too much time to bask in the glory of being New Zealand's 99th Olympic medallist. He heads straight to Japan to race in their pro keirin league, which he credited with making him as a top cyclist at his first visit in 2010.

"It's going to be that much better being an Olympic medallist, being a bloody gladiator over there. I can't wait to get over there and be the BFG racing the wee Japanese."

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- Fairfax Media

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