Mother of two rises into elite mountain bike ranks in just two years
Karen Hanlen has been named to the New Zealand cycling team for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The Whakatane rider will be her country's sole representative in cross country mountain bike racing.
The 32-year-old mother of two and physiotherapist only took up the sport in 2010. She progressed quickly to a stage where she ventured overseas last year on the World Cup circuit.
Hanlen has been locked in a battle for selection with Beijing Olympian Rosara Joseph (Rabobank-Giant) this year, winning the domestic national series and the Oceania title before grabbing a top-10 finish in this year's opening World Cup race in South Africa.
She had two more solid results in Europe, but a crash on a brutal course in France last month thwarted her final World Cup. It also claimed Joseph, who broke her wrist in two places during practice, effectively ending her hopes of selection.
Hanlen will be hoping to match Joseph's showing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where the latter placed ninth.
BikeNZ High Performance Director, Mark Elliott said he was delighted with the selection of Hanlen to the team. "New Zealand has a history of producing world class women's cross country mountain bikers from the likes of Kathy Lynch, Susy Pryde, Robyn Wong, Rosara Joseph and now Karen."
"To achieve such strong performances with such a short time in the sport, as a working physiotherapist with a young family is outstanding and she has the opportunity now to shine on the biggest stage."
The New Zealand road bike team is yet to be selected.