23 Aug 2008

Final Beijing fling for NZ athletes

8:38 am on 23 August 2008

The last New Zealanders are in action today at the Beijing Olympics in kayaking, Taekwondo and mountainbiking.

The Bike NZ camp is hopeful of a good performance with Rosara Joseph and Kashi Leuchs racing today.

Both riders are well down the rankings, but Bike NZ high performance manager Mark Elliott is optimistic.

Elliott says the experienced Leuchs likes the course.

He finished fourth in the test event last year, but comes up against a strong men's field headed by defending men's champion Julien Absalon of France who has won four straight world titles since Athens.

However Elliot says the uphill sections are likely to disadvantage some of the bigger riders.

He says Joseph's back from her fractured ankle and will line up as one of the outsiders for the women's race at two o'clock.

The men race at 7pm.

In Taekwondo, the NZ heavyweight Matt Beach takes on Asian champion Liu Xiaobo of China in his opening bout at 4.15pm.

And after finishing sixth in the K2 1000 yesterday, Steven Ferguson gets to paddle for a medal one more time tonight at 7.30 in the K1-500.

But the prospect of kayaker Ben Fouhy competing in the London 2012 Games looks slim.

The 29-year-old Athens silver medallist and former world champion in the K1 1000 finished 4th in Beijing yesterday - but revealed afterwards he came close to quitting altogether three times this year.

Now Fouhy's simply looking forward to time off.

He says he'll always paddle but maybe not three or four times a day for the next four years.