Sam Gaze beats out Anton Cooper for Rio selection

  • 10/06/2016
Sam Gaze (Photosport)
Sam Gaze (Photosport)

Sam Gaze has won the race for Rio selection over Commonwealth Champion Anton Cooper as New Zealand’s Mountain Bike representative. 

Gaze, who won a silver medal in a Kiwi one-two finish in Glasgow, will be racing at his first Olympic Games.

Double World Champion Cooper wasn't considered for medical reasons, after illness derailed his recent World Cup competitions.

Cooper posted on his website that he was suffering from fatigue and won't be back to "proper race speed" until August.

"My problem is most likely a fatigue/over-training, under-recovery issue but I will still try to rule out all other possibilities. I will take two weeks complete rest with the aim of returning to race at the Under 23 World Champs in Nove Mesto," Cooper wrote.

"I won't be anywhere near peak form in Nove Mesto but I will do my best to defend my title. The earliest I can expect to be back to proper race speed is the World Cup round in Mont Saint Anne, Canada on August the 7th. I'll be back."

Gaze is delighted to have been given the nod. 

"This has been a dream of mine. I remember watching the London Olympic mountain bike and four years later I will be part of it. I am so honoured to represent my country and motivated now to do my best for my family, for everyone who has helped me, for Cycling New Zealand and for my sport," he said.

Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director, Mark Elliott said: "Sam has developed well over the last 18 months with his professional team. He is strong and has exceptional speed and when on his game, can match the speed of some of the best elite riders. "He has had some experience in a Games environment at Glasgow and I am sure he will perform at an exceptional level in Rio. While the field will include the best elite riders, it will also be considerably smaller than the fields in World Cup competitions which should give opportunities for Sam to show his strengths."

Trent Jones, 21, has been selected for the BMX competition.