Cyclist Odlin's confidence at an all time high

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2014
Paul Odlin
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
READY, SET: Canterbury cyclist Paul Odlin on his way at the start of last year's time trial.

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A tattered, well-read book about golf seems an odd companion for a top cyclist, but it could help Christchurch's Paul Odlin reach his Commonwealth Games goal.

The 35-year-old has made no secret of his desire to competeat theCommonwealth games in Glasgow this year as a time trialist and while he has no say in selection, a win in today's 40km out-and-back time trial national championships at Lincoln would help his cause.

The 2012 champion and 2013 Oceania champion is already one of the favourites, but the book The Inner Game of Golf about the mental side of sport has him on a confidence high.

Odlin has always had the ability, legs and mind-game when it comes to raceday but as he puts it, "[he] listens to the little negative monkey on my shoulder too much", during training.

"I used to sabotage myself a bit," he said.

"Telling myself things like, 'I'm tired, I'm struggling'. But I've learnt to relax, to be more confident and to know others are in the same boat and to know I've done the work."

The book seems to be working; he's a different man to talk to. Last year, Odlin came across like he knew he could win, but also knew he could lose.

This year there's just something different. He's excited about his new mental approach and that has bred confidence even in the way he speaks.

He's more at ease, "less emotionally attached to the results" and was fizzing about raceday.

Odlin puts a big chunk of his excitement down to the book he showed off proudly when speaking to The Press.

It's a difficult balance for Odlin, a father to Lucca, 4, Hazel, 2, and husband to Holly.

He wants to remain relaxed and confident, yet this race is a real chance to prove he should be selected in the Commonwealth Games squad. It's not his last chance, but it's a big one.

One hurdle will be the selection team. Bike NZ have made it clear they're building to Rio, Odlin is building to Glasgow.

Should he go and win the Commonwealth Games gold, he said he might reassess for Rio [Olympics], but at this stage Scotland is his top priority.

"All I can do at the moment is win [today]," he said. "There aren't the international time trials so selectors could decide on this and from road results."

Odlin also wants to finish the Cashmere road race on Sunday, for the first time, as that would show his versatility and improve his chances of Games selection.

He's no road racing slug and is the 2012 Oceania road racing champion, but getting up the tough Dyers Pass 10 times on Sunday, after giving his all today, is another tough challenge.

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Odlin was beaten last year by impressive Wellington rider Joseph Cooper by 15 seconds.

Faster still was Christchurch's Michael Vink, but he was competing in the under-23 section which he won for the third time in four years.

He's now up with the elite riders and can definitely push for the title as can 2011 champion Westley Gough, while Odlin talked up Morgan Smith, Jason Christie, Sam Horgan and Taylor Gunman as well.

Linda Villumsen is again the hot favourite for the 25km women's time trial.

The 28-year-old won last year's event by a whopping 1min 19sec, smashing the field and the course record. That was despite claiming after the 2010 event at Lincoln that she loathed the open out and back course so much she would never return.

Last year's runner-up Jaime Nielsen looks to be Villumsen closest rival, while 2012 winner Lauren Ellis, 2010 road race champion Rushlee Buchanan and the in-form Reta Trotman are also in the field.

The women's time trial begins at 10am while the men's starts at 11am.

- Fairfax Media

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