Henderson proud to be back on mountain bike's biggest stage

Published 5 July 2016 (AEDT)

HADLEIGH, ESSEX - AUGUST 11: Rebecca Henderson of Australia during the Women's Cross-country Mountain Bike race on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at at Hadleigh Farm on August 11, 2012 in Hadleigh, Essex. © 2012 Getty Images

CYCLING – MTB: Rebecca Henderson is set to take to the rugged terrain of the Deodoro Mountain Bike Centre after she was announced as Australia’s women’s representative for the gruelling discipline at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

It will be Henderson’s second Games appearance after she made her Olympic debut in London where she finished 25th.

The 24-year-old from Canberra has had a steady rise up the rankings to her current place inside the world’s top 20, which was helped by a breakthrough bronze medal winning performance at the opening World Cup event of the 2016 season in Cairns.

The result paved the way for another shot at Olympic competition.

“The Olympics in London was amazing,” Henderson said.

“It blew my mind in every possible way and it is what has kept me pushing towards Rio.

“The experience it gives you and the exposure it gives to your sport can really help the sport to progress.”

With another four years of competition under her belt, Henderson will be more readily able to embrace the challenges an Olympic Games throws at you.

“Last time there was so much focus on just being selected that I didn’t have a plan in place for if I was selected.

“This time I have been working towards the Olympic Games as one of my main focuses of the season and not had to stress about the selection.

“I also have the experience of the London Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - so I feel pretty comfortable about how the ‘Games’ operates. It was a lot to take in the first time.”

The Rio course will throw up plenty of challenges for Henderson and her fellow competitors with a number of rocky jumps and a 40-degree descent down a staircase of wooden beams standing in the way of Olympic glory.

Henderson got the chance to head to Rio last October to get to know the course and believes it will be a fast and tactical affair.

“The test event gave me a good idea of the course, the climate and the lifestyle in Brazil.

“I think the course is great - it will make for great spectating and TV coverage which is a huge part of the Olympic Games - showing our sport to a wider audience.

“I don’t think it shows ‘raw’ mountain biking but definitely modern mountain biking with plenty of climbing and technical features. The course is fast so it should also be pretty tactical racing.”

With 50 of the world’s finest women’s Mountain Bike athletes set to hit Deodoro on the penultimate day of Olympic competition, on Saturday August 20, the racing doesn’t get any tougher for Henderson.

“I had the ride of my life at the Cairns World Cup and while I would not consider myself a medal contender in Rio but that doesn’t mean I won’t be giving 100% in my preparation and race in Rio.

“Who knows, I didn’t expect to podium in Cairns.”

Henderson kicked off the 2016 season with a number of wins in the national series before taking out the Oceania Championships.

After her World Cup podium in Cairns she secured anther top 10 finish against world class competition when she was eighth across the line at the La Bresse World Cup in France.

She finished 48th over the weekend at the Mountain Bike World Championships in the Czech Republic.

Australia have never won a medal before in Mountain Bike with Mary Grigson’s sixth place finish at the Sydney 2000 Games the best finish by an Australian in Olympic competition.

Australia has also qualified two men for the Mountain Bike competition in Rio, to be held on Sunday 21 August, but due to an appeal these athletes will be selected at a later date.

Henderson, along with the other 24 cycling athletes (Track, Mountain Bike, Road) selected today, take the overall 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 301 from 22 sports, with an expected final Team of over 400 athletes. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>

MTB CYCLING ATHLETE SELECTED FOR 2016 AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC TEAM

Rebecca Henderson - 2nd Games

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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