Liam Killeen is one of Great Britain's mountain bike medal hopes for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The British cross country national champion is already busy preparing for next year. He finished fifth at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and seventh at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
"I'll learn from Athens and Beijing to be at my best for London Olympics," he said in an interview with British Cycling.
Other career successes include winning the Commonwealth Games title in 2006, finishing second at the World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2006 and finishing fourth at the 2008 world championships. But it hasn't always been smooth sailing - in 2007, Killeen battled a virus and at times during his career, he has suffered back problems.
Talking of his strategy in 2012, Killeen said to British Cycling, "I know I need to bank some decent UCI points in some of the early season racing to try and optimise my gridding for the Games in August. Ideally I'd like to be on the first row, that or the second row is where I need to be. The start on the London Olympic course is pretty crucial; the way it sets you up for the first part of the first lap means you need to be in the top eight riders."
During his Olympic experiences, Killeen has seen the duration of the cross country race drop from about 2.25 hours to an expected 1.5 hours in 2012. The shorter format means there is less time to make up for any mistakes during the event or a lack of top-end preparation.
"It is an endurance event but there is a focus on explosive sprinting throughout the race, which leaves the type of rider who will be up there as someone who can go very hard for the first few laps before holding on to the finish."
Killeen knows he will need to work on those first high-speed laps. That means he will be adding specific workouts to his training regimen to hone his power and speed.
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