Oceania’s best mountain bikers descend on Dunedin for 2020 Oceania Championships
Oceania’s best mountain bikers have descended on Dunedin in New Zealand’s South Island with Oceania titles and crucial Olympian qualifying points up for grabs.
10 titles will be awarded across two days with elite, under 23 and junior categories in Cross-country and elite and junior in Downhill. With world championship medallists in action the competition is expected to be hot as ever.
New Zealand’s Anton Cooper is chasing his fifth elite title in a row, having first claimed the title in 2016 in Queenstown. Last year’s podium finishers Ben Oliver (New Zealand) and Cameron Ivory (Australia) loom as the biggest threats to Cooper, with Ivory a consistent performer finding the podium the last three years. Reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist and dual under 23 world champion Sam Gaze (New Zealand) will be looking to add the Oceania title to his palmares. Daniel McConnell (Australia) already a five-time champion, will be looking to reclaim the crown, though faces tough competition from the rising stars of the sport
World Championship silver medallist Rebecca McConnell (Australia) leads the women’s field and after a standout 2019 season, will be hoping to start the Olympian year with early success. Holly Harris (Australia) and Josie Wilcox (New Zealand) who earned silver and bronze a year ago will have a tough task to upset McConnell.
The under 23 men’s race is set to be hotly contested with defending champion Matt Dinham chasing back to back wins. He won’t have it all his own way with fellow Australian rising stars Cameron Wright and Sam Fox nipping at his heals.
Jessica Manchester is the name to watch in the under 23 women’s though the 2019 under 19 podium of Zoe Cuthbert (Australia), Samara Maxwell (New Zealand) and Ruby Ryan (New Zealand) all step up adding to the depth of the field.
The under 19 races will see the future stars of the sport battle for the title. Liam Johnston (Australia) the silver medallist in 2019 will be looking to go one better, while Nick Chisholm (Australia) and Domenic Paolili (Australia) both loom as threats. Phoebe Thompson (Australia) and Holly Lubcke (Australia) finished fourth and fifth a year ago and in their final year junior will be looking to step up.
With the defending champion absent will Sam Blenkinsop (New Zealand) run away to a third Oceania title? Having claimed the title on Signal Hill two years ago the Kiwi star will be looking to hold off some strong competition. Dean Lucas who is ranked ninth in the world is the biggest threat, though don’t discount rising star Tuhoto-Ariki Pene who finished on the junior podium at the World Championships in 2019.
In the women’s defending champion Sian A’Hern (Australia) and 2018 winner Virginia Armstrong (New Zealand) will go head to head for another title with Shania Rawson (Australia) adding to the leading contenders.