McConnell makes history as Bowden gets first chance on Olympic stage
Published 12 July 2016 (AEDT)
CYCLING – MTB: Daniel McConnell will make Australian Olympic history in Rio as he becomes the nation’s first athlete to compete at three Games in the mountain bike discipline.
He is joined in Rio by one of the nation’s brightest prospects in the sport in 21-year-old Scott Bowden, who will make his Olympic debut at the Deodoro Mountain Bike Centre.
“Of course I am excited to represent Australia at the Olympics in Rio,” said McConnell.
“It is the biggest event you can do so to be able to compete in my third Games it means a lot to me and something I can share with everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Since finishing 21st at the London 2012 Games McConnell has risen up the world rankings and currently sits just outside the top ten.
“I have progressed quite a lot since London. I had to train so hard to make those Games and I’ve continued to train just as hard and keep that focus up ever since.
“My main focus at the moment is getting back to the form that got me to the top end of the sport and I'm putting all my energy into that, if I can get there for Rio anything is possible.”
McConnell’s partner Rebecca Henderson was announced to the Rio 2016 Team last week and McConnell is again looking forward to competing alongside her.
“This will be our second Olympics together which is amazing.
“To be able to experience this together is something we will remember for a life time and because it means so much to both of us it definitely motivates us to keep pushing the limits.”
Bowden rounds out the three-member Mountain Bike team for Rio and gets his first shot at Olympic competition in Rio.
“Making an Olympics from quite a young age was something I definitely dreamed of after watching it on television every four years.
“Witnessing the hype around the Olympics when they were in Sydney in 2000 really resonated with me and highlighted the enormity of the sporting event and how it is so much more than that alone. Since then to be a part of that had been a big dream.”
Bowden first thought he could make Rio in late 2014 when he stuck with McConnell until halfway through the final lap in the opening round of the national series before finishing in second.
While the Olympic year not been all smooth sailing as he builds for Rio the young gun has posted a number of solid results.
“2016 hasn’t gone exactly to plan however I'd say the highs outweigh the lows, and the season obviously isn't over yet.
“Defending my U23 National title, claiming 3rd in the Elite division at the Oceania Championships and 7th at the first World Cup in Cairns have been among the highlights so far.
“I'm still super motivated and really looking forward to putting in plenty more hard work leading into Rio, and feel as though I've still got my best performance to come.”
If that personal best is to be produced in Rio, Bowden knows he will have to have a strong final few weeks prior to the 2016 Games.
“Three weeks before the race in Rio I will travel to Quebec, Canada and race World Cup #5 there before the final leg down to Rio.
“This World Cup will serve as the perfect hit out before the final preparations for Rio and as an added bonus Quebec is on the same time zone as Rio so I should well and truly be over the jet lag.”
The men’s mountain bike competitors are among the final athletes to compete in Rio with the race taking place on the final day of competition in Rio.