Cycling NZ turn to Comm Games hurdler for sprint team 'depth'

Source: 1News

Cycling New Zealand is turning to a Commonwealth Games hurdler to try and get its men's team sprint back to the top.

Nz's 400-metre hurdles record holder Cameron French has taken up the sport and is being trained to be able to join the sprint squad to add depth in time for next year's Birmingham Games and the Olympics in Paris.

French told 1News the switch has been interesting.

“When we did the testing I was like, ‘right, just go for it!’” French said.

“I can't muck around with this - if you go too slow you'll slip off and I thought, ‘well just don't go too slow’!”

French said the surprise swap from the athletics track to cycling velodrome all started with a call to Cycling NZ.

“It had been a little bit in the back of my mind,” he said.

“Are there other options? Is there a different path I can take? Is it an exciting change to use my physical attributes? Is there a different route I could go down?”

Cameron French is a two-time national champion in the 400m hurdles.

Those questions have quickly shifted to pushing for a spot at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and ultimately the Paris Olympics although he knows he’s racing against the clock off the bike as well.

“It isn't a heap of time and all I can do is my best and see how hard I can go.

“I know I've got a lot of work to do but I'm just hungry to go hard.”

Sprint coach Rene Wolff said they have a clear timeline ahead though.

“We actually have said to ourselves we have National Championships in March, we throw everything at this training process until March and then see how quick we're actually moving,” Wolff said.

French won’t replace anyone currently in the squad but will add depth moving forward potentially as a lead-out rider, Wolff said.

“That's where we're really, really short on talent and that can be a great asset if we can transfer him pretty quickly.”

Wolff added track coaches also tried other athletes from athletics, rowing, BMX and mountain biking.