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Natasha Hansen - still in shock
Apr 27th, 12. "I am still in shock – I am shaking still. It's crazy." Natasha Hansen told RoadCycling.co.nz about hearing she was going to the Olympic Games.
The 22 year old sprinter from Invercargill found out the news last night when NZ sprint coach Stu MacDonald told her, but at first it did not sound like good news.
"Initially when Stu told me, he made it out like it was really bad news. But then he said 'I'm happy to say you are going to the Olympics.' I was so excited – I went into shock."
"Originally I didn't think I was going to go – then I was in total shock, couldn't stop smiling – I got no sleep last night.
"It still feels really surreal. I wasn't really expecting to go, I didn't feel like it was my right to go, that's why it feels all the more special."
For most of the season Hansen, along with Katie Schofield, has been concentrating on qualifying for the Team Sprint event.
When they finished one place off qualifing for an Olympic position the Invercargill based air traffic controller thought her chances of representing her country at the highest level were significantly diminished.
Although she had qualified for the Kierin and the individual Sprint events, her lack of Top 5 placings had her thinking she might have to wait until Rio in 2016 to race at the Olympics.
Fortunately, that is not the case.
"BikeNZ have said that they are sending me for development so I will be in medal contention in Rio 2016. I think I am really fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to go to an Olympic Games and go without having any pressure on me to perform at an extremely high level, but go there to soak it in.
"Even though it's for development I'm still going with the intention of winning. I think it's a really great position to be in, because I think that without the pressure it's going to make me perform at a higher level than what I would have had I had been under pressure."
Who did she tell first?
The first person Hansen told was her personal coach Jerard Stock.
"The whole time he has believed in me. With his belief and with the pressure he helped apply, we were able to start a women's sprint programme which has got me here.
"It's been pretty exciting and quite a steep curve over the last year and a half," said Hansen who only returned to cycling over that period.
Although thrilled to be included in the team, Hansen is also disappointed she will not be riding the Team Sprint.
"It feels really bittersweet not to be able to go for the team sprint, especially as we had put the majority of our eggs all in one basket, so to not qualify for the team sprint is really disappointing.
"I have to take the positives out of this and build up to the Games – working on my tactics as a sprinter and Keirin rider."
Without the pressure of looking for a medal in the Team Sprint - arguably the best chance for a medal, Hansen can now focus on other skills.
"Keirin has always been my favourite event and so I'm so thankful for this opportunity to work on it and race it."
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