Dan hoping third times’ a charm

Published 21 August 2016 (AEDT)

HADLEIGH, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 12: Daniel McConnell of Australia in action in the Men's Mountain Bike race on Day 16 of the 2012 Olympic Games at Hadleigh Farm on August 12, 2012 in Hadleigh, Essex. © 2012 Getty Images

MOUNTAIN BIKE: On the eve of his third Olympic Games campaign, Australia’s Daniel McConnell is hoping to continue his Olympic results trend and launch himself into the top ten.

Victoria’s McConnell finished 39th while on his Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Games, and four years later in London almost broke into the top twenty, finishing 21st.

"It has been a progression, especially since London I have improved quite a lot," said McConnell. "It has kind of gone pretty quickly, it not something you start off doing, trying to get as many Games as you can."

Since the London Games, McConnell has finished the year end world rankings in fifth (2013), fifth (2014), and eighth (2015) in the three years since. And with two Games under his belt, he is feeling relaxed ahead of Sunday’s men’s cross country final.

"Everything is a lot different at the Olympics than a normal race, the village and the food, pretty much everything you do day to day," he said.

"Finding your routine becomes super important, but I think I was able to find that pretty quickly this week and settle in and looking forward to getting the racing underway."

Dan will line up in a superb field including reigning world champion and London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Nino Schurter (SUI), 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion Julien Absalon (FRA), plus reigning Olympic gold medallist Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE).

McConnell, who has been battling illness for much of 2016, might have dropped in the world rankings, but he is confident ahead of his biggest race.

"If I can get to the start line feeling good, I think anything is possible. I am going in open minded," said McConnell. "I started the year pretty well, fairly motivated and off to a fairly good start.

"But then struggled with a bit of illness in the early months of the year, I couldn’t quite get on top.

"The training was ticking along well but at the racing, I would get to the race and I would always be a little bit flat.

"But I think I am top of that now, I feel really good. It is just about getting as much rest now, the training is done, not much more I can do I now.

"I actually feel the most confident I have for a few years going into a race."

McConnell, and Tasmania’s Scott Bowden will take to the Olympic Mountain Bike Centre for seven laps of a technically challenging 4.85km loop course featuring a mix of climbing, steep descents and hazards, such as rock gardens, jumps, berms and bridges.

The men’s race begins at 12.30pm.

Amy McCann

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