Cycling: Tokyo delay means end of line for New Zealander Dawkins


(Reuters) – For most athletes a 12-month delay for the Tokyo Olympics was frustrating but for Eddie Dawkins, New Zealand’s most successful track cyclist, it convinced him to call time on his career.

Three-time world champion Dawkins had eyed a medal in Tokyo this year, having managed a silver in the team sprint in Rio de Janeiro. That ambition will now never be realised.

“My body said yeah but my heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t want to carry along this path if I wasn’t going to give everything to it because I feel like I’d be letting myself down but also (team mates) Sam and Ethan,” Dawkins was quoted by RNZ.

The 30-year-old would have been part of New Zealand’s sprint team and would have been a contender for a medal with team mates Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster.

Yet he said a further 15 months’ commitment, assuming the Games goes ahead next year, was a bridge too far.

“To now face a further year on top of that, and with no certainty even then, is a step too far for me,” he said.

“I’ve been in the high performance programme over 12 years and it’s been on a wild journey. Ethan, Sam and me have been like brothers. We’ve been to the top of the world and spent countless hours together in training, travelling and competing.”

Cycling New Zealand CEO Jacques Landry said Dawkins had helped put the sport on the map in New Zealand.

“His career speaks for itself on the track and he has been a larger-than-life character off it,” he said. “Together with Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster they formed a remarkable partnership that took them to the top of the sport where they dominated for several years.

“In doing so they flew the New Zealand flag around the world on track cycling’s biggest stages.”

Dawkins could yet make it to Tokyo though, having signalled his intention to move into coaching.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis