Jorge Sandoval's long-standing passion for the sport of cycling has been rewarded in the New Zealand's New Year Honours list. Chilean-born Sandoval, who has been made an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to cycling, said he felt privileged at receiving the honour.
Sandoval fled to New Zealand as a political refugee from the oppressive regime of Dictator Augusto Pinochet in the mid 1970s. He has been a cycling administrator in his adopted country for over 25 years and he has organised over 30 elite international events in that time, including last year's international women's cycle tour and the women's World Cup cycling event.
"It's just a tremendous honour," Sandoval said. "It is a privilege to be on the list." Sandoval said the honour took him back to 30 years ago, "when I arrived in this country with a couple of T-shirts and a few Spanish records".
"I think it shows you the quality of this country in which it gives every opportunity to everyone, whether you are a New Zealander or you are an immigrant."
"Over the past few years, I have been nominated by people who have nothing to do with our sport and twice awarded the Administrator of the year award and this year I was a finalist in the Wellingtonian of the year. In all my 20 years promoting cycling, I have never being recognised by my national body."
Sandoval said the honour was also recognition for the country of his birth, Chile. "It is also an honour because I also represent my country, Chile, and I also try to be the best citizen because I am an ambassador for my country.
"... To the many volunteers who came out every year to help and run these events, to all the participants and of course, to the New Zealand Police, without their support, the sport of road cycling could not exist."