Cooper wins BikeNZ People's Choice Award
A teenage mountain biker has beaten out cycling's Olympians to win a major BikeNZ award.
Anton Cooper, an 18-year-old from North Canterbury, made history this year when he became the first ever UCI cross-country mountain bike world champion in any age-group from New Zealand.
He has now capped the year off by being named 2012 BikeNZ People's Choice Award winner.
This performance shot Cooper into the limelight and earned him the title, as voted on by the New Zealand public, ahead of Olympic medallists Sarah Walker and Simon van Velthooven.
"It's pretty cool, I guess being voted by the public reflects both sporting ability and also indicates what sort of person you are as well. It's a pretty cool acknowledgement and a great honour," said Cooper.
"I think the public is often the truest voting system, rather than a panel of four or five people, so to be recognised by the New Zealand public is really cool."
It wasn't all bad for the Olympic cyclists, however, as they snapped up seven of the eight 2012 BikeNZ Rider of the Year awards announced today.
Road riders Jack Bauer and Linda Villumsen won the male and female rider of the year awards in their discipline, following impressive performances in London.
Van Velthooven cashed in on his Olympic bronze medal to win the male track rider of the year, while current individual pursuit world champion Alison Shanks took the women's award.
Walker was rewarded for her Olympic silver medal with female BMX rider of the year, with fellow Olympian Marc Willers claiming the men's award.
In mountain biking, it was Olympian Karen Hanlen and Cooper taking out top honours.
Teenage road and track rider Sophie Williamson was crowned best emerging talent while downhill mountain biker Justin Leov was honoured with the lifetime achievement award for his dedication and service to cycling over the past decade.