It’s official, Sam Gaze will be representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games in mountain biking after a hard fought battle for the single Olympic spot with Anton Cooper. It was announced today that both Sam Gaze and Trent Jones will represent New Zealand, with Jones riding BMX.
It’s a story of youth for both New Zealand’s mountain biking and BMX campaigns as Gaze and Cooper are 20 and 21 years old respectively. The rise of Sam Gaze in the 2016 season is particularly impressive. He’d shown signs of his potential already, winning a round of the UCI MTB World Cup in Cairns in the Eliminator discipline. But it has been his cross country prowess that has come to the fore this year with the Commonwealth Games silver medallist claiming two wins and a third place in the U23 Cross Country World Cup series.
On the NZOC website Sam said, “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.”
The battle between Gaze and Cooper for Olympic selection was dampened with Commonwealth champion Cooper suffering illness throughout this season, but with both of them very young there is no reason why the two of them can’t battle it out for two more Olympic cycles.
Mark Elliott, High Performance Director for Cycling New Zealand said, “Sam gas 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.”
Sam’s impressive showing at the Commonwealth Games gives Elliott every confidence that he can deliver on global sport’s biggest stage.
There are still a number of positions in cycling yet to be filled with the road positions and the majority of track positions still up for grabs.
We will keep you in the loop as further announcements are made.