'Rhino' van Velthooven charging for Rio

Rebecca Scown, Joseph Sullivan and Juliette Haigh with their medals.
Rebecca Scown, Joseph Sullivan and Juliette Haigh with their medals.
470 gold medallists Polly Powrie and Jo Aleh are all smiles as they arrive in Auckland.
470 gold medallists Polly Powrie and Jo Aleh are all smiles as they arrive in Auckland.
Joseph Sullivan stops for a photo with some rowing fans.
Joseph Sullivan stops for a photo with some rowing fans.
Jackie, Zac and Eric Murray share a family moment at the airport.
Jackie, Zac and Eric Murray share a family moment at the airport.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke show off their silver emdals.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke show off their silver emdals.
Mahe Drysdale shows his gold medal to young cousins Niia, 4, left and Zizi, 6.
Mahe Drysdale shows his gold medal to young cousins Niia, 4, left and Zizi, 6.
Hamish Bond shows off his gold medal.
Hamish Bond shows off his gold medal.
Eric Murray, Nathan Cohen and Blair Tuke arrive at Auckland airport.
Eric Murray, Nathan Cohen and Blair Tuke arrive at Auckland airport.
Gold medallist Eric Murray has his hands full with son Zac and interviews after arriving home from London.
Gold medallist Eric Murray has his hands full with son Zac and interviews after arriving home from London.
Cycling medalists, from left; Aaron Gate, Simon van Velthooven, Sarah Walker, Marc Ryan and Westley Gough pose for a photo.
Cycling medalists, from left; Aaron Gate, Simon van Velthooven, Sarah Walker, Marc Ryan and Westley Gough pose for a photo.
Simon van Velthooven poses for a photo with his family.
Simon van Velthooven poses for a photo with his family.
Fans line the barriers at Auckland airport to catch a glimpse of their Olympic heroes.
Fans line the barriers at Auckland airport to catch a glimpse of their Olympic heroes.
Sarah Walker stops for a photo with some young fans.
Sarah Walker stops for a photo with some young fans.
Members of the cycling team arrive at Auckland airport.
Members of the cycling team arrive at Auckland airport.
Westley Gough, left and Marc Ryan, members of the bronze medal winning team pursuit, arrive in Auckland.
Westley Gough, left and Marc Ryan, members of the bronze medal winning team pursuit, arrive in Auckland.
Sarah Walker with her BMX silver medal.
Sarah Walker with her BMX silver medal.
Cyclist Simon van Velthooven gives his bronze medal a kiss as he arrives at Auckland airport.
Cyclist Simon van Velthooven gives his bronze medal a kiss as he arrives at Auckland airport.
Some young fans gather to check out Sarah Walker's silver medal.
Some young fans gather to check out Sarah Walker's silver medal.
Sarah Walker poses for photos with her medal at Auckland airport.
Sarah Walker poses for photos with her medal at Auckland airport.
Sarah Walker is greeted by boyfriend Ian Seymour.
Sarah Walker is greeted by boyfriend Ian Seymour.
A young fan gets up close to Sarah Walker's silver medal.
A young fan gets up close to Sarah Walker's silver medal.
Rowing fans await the arrival of the New Zealand Olympic team.
Rowing fans await the arrival of the New Zealand Olympic team.
Bronze medal winning cyclist Aaron Gates' family awaits his arrival at Auckland airport.
Bronze medal winning cyclist Aaron Gates' family awaits his arrival at Auckland airport.

After "bringing home the bacon", Olympic cycling bronze medallist Simon van Velthooven is already eyeing greater feats.

The Feilding 23-year-old was greeted by his aunty, uncle and cousin, who held a doubled-sided sign saying "Rhino Rules" on one side and "party at his house" on the other, as New Zealand's athletes were welcomed home by a large, buoyant crowd at Auckland Airport today.

"This is what any sportsman wants to do, bring home the bacon for New Zealand," van Velthooven beamed.

Inspired by British cycling legend Chris Hoy, who secured his sixth gold, van Velthooven pledged his desire to follow in his idol's footsteps after spending a night on the town with him in London.

"This medal is just a carrot for the donkey in my eyes. I can't wait for the next rotation," he said in reference to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"The bronze is great, but after seeing Chris Hoy win his sixth gold, I want to go down that road for sure. After racing we talked more and more now. We went out and had a night together."

Van Velthooven passed his medal throughout the crowd to ensure the public got to share in his success.

"I want everyone to hold it and see how heavy it is," he said. "I can't wait to get out there and show everyone this medal and inspire some more people to do the same as what I did."

His aunty, Sue, believed her nephew had the potential to kick on and realise his lofty dreams.

"He'll be like a Rhino with a sore head waiting four years to do it again," she told Fairfax Media.

"He got a bronze in the Commonwealth so we thought he could do it. But the Olympics is a huge step up, you're racing against the best in the world.

"He wants to lift more weights and train harder. He's absolutely determined.

"These kids have been doing it from high school with the backing of their parents. It's only when they become elite athletes that they get any financial reward."

Watching the tense finish was hard for the family back home.

"It was so close. It wasn't good on us oldies when it's that close," she said.

Van Velthooven's younger cousin, 18-year-old New Zealand rowing prospect Louis, wanted to emulate Simon's courageous performance on the world stage.

"It was very inspirational, something to remember forever. It will be my dream to be there one day, too," he said.

Uncle, John, recalled jumping out of his seat after the agonising wait for shared bronze was confirmed.

"You always want them to medal but you never expect it. When it happened it was exhilarating," he said.

Fairfax Media