British mountain biker Liam Killeen aims to repeat his Commonwealth Games bronze medal winning performance in Melbourne next year. Killeen was 20 when he finished third in the cross country race at Manchester in 2002, his first medal at senior international level. Three years later he has gained experience on the international circuit, including a fifth place in the cross country event at the Athens 2004 Olympics and a string of top-10 World Cup finishes.
Liam has fond memories of the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games and believes his extra experience will help him achieve another podium finish at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, subject to selection. "I was expecting to be in the top five, but I had an exceptionally good race on the day," he recalled. "I felt very good and had prepared really well.
"I'm sure I can repeat that level of performance. I'm definitely going for a medal and I'm pretty keen for it to be gold, but I know it won't be an easy race."
Although a podium position has eluded him in the World Cup - his highest finish to date was a fourth at Fort William last year - he believes it is only a matter of time until he medals in the World Cup. "I feel the podium is where I should be. There are about 10 guys who are on a fairly similar level and it's just about who is having a good day," said the 23 year-old after his sixth place finish in the fourth round of this year's cross country World Cup in Willingen, Germany.
Liam's latest performance in Germany followed a 12th place and two eighths in the 2005 World Cup series, pushing him up a place to eighth overall as the series reached its half way mark.
He will have an opportunity to check out some of his potential Commonwealth Games opposition at the next round of the World Cup in Canada later this month. Canadian riders took the gold and silver medals at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games. They haven't raced in this year's World Cup but are likely to be out in force on their home territory. But Liam believes the Australians will provide his main opposition in Melbourne. "The Australians will be very competitive," he said. "They will be in good shape because it is there racing season. I would prefer to race a bit later in the year, but I know I'll be able to get my head around it."
Before the Commonwealth Games come around, Killeen will compete at his first senior World Championships in Livigno, Italy in August - he won silver at last year's Under-23 World Championships at Les Gets, France. British fans can see him in action in the final round of this year's World Cup series, which takes place at Fort William in Scotland on September 10.