Tokyo Olympics: Cyclist Eddie Dawkins retires after Games postponed

Eddie Dawkins at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Eddie Dawkins at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo credit: Photosport

Rio Olympics silver medalist Eddie Dawkins has announced his retirement from track cycling. 

Dawkins, who combined with Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster in the men's team sprint, had hoped to bow out at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but after they were postponed 12 months, he decided to bring an early end to his illustrious career. 

Along with his Olympic success, the 30-year-old has also snared seven medals over three Commonwealth Games - two of them gold - along with three world titles. 

"I wanted to commit everything I had into one last Olympic campaign with Ethan and Sam for Tokyo 2020," says Dawkins.

"To now face a further year on top of that and with no certainty even then is a step too far for me.

"If I can't give my heart and soul to this, to continue to improve and get faster, then anything less would be letting myself down and, above all else, letting my teammates down."

The team of Dawkins, Mitchell and Webster medalled on the world stage with a bronze at Melbourne in 2012 and silver in Minsk the following year. 

The breakthrough world title came at altitude in Columbia 2014, followed by a silver to hosts France in 2015, before further rainbow jerseys at London (2016) and Hong Kong (2017). 

They broke the Olympic record at Rio, but were pipped by Great Britain in the gold-medal race-off.

Eddie Dawkins (middle) with Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell.
Eddie Dawkins (middle) with Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell. Photo credit: Photosport

Dawkins had struggled for form in the Tokyo build-up and was replaced by 22-year-old Sam Dakin during this year's World Cup programme. He returned for the world championships in February, but the trio could not progress to medal rounds, eliminated by France in quarter-finals.

"I've been in the high performance programme over 12 years and it's been a wild journey. 

"Ethan, Sam and me have been like brothers. We've been to the top of the world, and spent countless hours together in training, travelling and competing." 

Cycling New Zealand chief executive Jacques Landry says the sport owes a huge debt of gratitude to Dawkins.

"His career speaks for itself on the track and he has been a larger-than-life character off it," he said. 

"Together with Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster, they formed a remarkable partnership that took them to the top of the sport, where they dominated for several years. 

"In doing so, they flew the New Zealand flag around the world on track cycling’s biggest stages."