22 Jun 2017

Internal strife put NZ cyclists off track in Rio - report

7:31 am on 22 June 2017

Problems with team culture and negative attitudes from both coaches and riders have been highlighted by a review of the New Zealand cycling team's disappointing performance at last year's Olympics.

New Zealand won just one cycling medal in Rio, with the world champion men's sprint team finishing second.

Ethan Mitchell, Eddie Dawkins and Sam Webster were the only New Zealand cyclists to win a medal at the Rio Olympics.

Ethan Mitchell, Eddie Dawkins and Sam Webster were the only New Zealand cyclists to win a medal at the Rio Olympics. Photo: Photosport

Other leading medal hopes - including the men's team pursuit and Linda Villumsen in the women's time trial - failed to make the podium.

The report says the team lost its way and got distracted in the final push towards Rio, which also occurred in London in 2012, but without the same impact on medals.

It goes on to say there are significant areas for improvement, including culture, leadership performance support, planning and communication.

"Athlete behavioural issues... caused a divide and instability within the athlete group and team."

A "stressful and negative environment" was ''amplified", with staff displaying negative behaviours, and people adopting negative attitudes or losing focus on performance processes.

Simon van Velthooven is now part of Team New Zealand's cycling grinders at the America's Cup.

Simon van Velthooven is now part of Team New Zealand's cycling grinders at the America's Cup. Photo: Team NZ

The report was released under an Official Information Act request by Ben van Velthooven, a relative of cyclist Simon van Velthooven, who missed out on Rio selection.

Simon van Velthooven is now part of Team New Zealand's America's Cup campaign in Bermuda.

Specific names of coaches and athletes have not been included in the publicly released report.

The report went on to say the illness of head coach Dayle Cheatley also led to instability within the Rio environment.

"Particularly when there were some disappointing performances that required leadership calmness and stability amongst the coaching and management team."

Former Cycling NZ high performance director Mark Elliott.

Former Cycling New Zealand high performance director Mark Elliott Photo: Photosport

It also noted a "detailed and honest" appraisal of the high performance programme had been undertaken by Cycling New Zealand since Rio and noted its high performance director, Mark Elliott, had since resigned.

RNZ sought comment from Elliott, but he said he had not seen the Rio report and had not been asked for any input into it, so did not want to comment.

Cycling New Zealand received more than $20 million in government funding for its build to the Rio Games.

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