Daniel McConnell and Rebecca Henderson have been named as Australia's mountain bike representatives for the London Olympic Games. It will be McConnell's second Olympic campaign while it will be Henderson's debut with the 20-year-old having the longer-term goal of competing in Rio in 2016.
"I have always wanted to be an Olympian but I never really thought I would be in the 2012 Games," Henderson said.
"The Aussie riders were always a few too many steps ahead of me when I was younger. Last year I stepped up a level, racing the World Cups, but I think it was only this year I was really considered a threat to other riders for the Olympic spot."
Henderson, from Canberra, landed her first podium finish in April with a bronze medal in the under 23 ranks at the second round of the World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium. But a 13th place finish at the next World Cup threatened to derail her Olympic campaign.
"I found it difficult to keep my head up after such disappointment," Henderson said.
"I was so motivated leading into the third round and knew I had only one chance left to prove my worthiness for a ride in London."
The fourth World Cup round in La Bresse, France provided Australia's contenders with a final chance to put their hands up for selection. Henderson rode her heart out to finish second on the under 23 podium.
"Crossing the finish line in second in the World Cup is a huge achievement for me, and so far from what I was expecting to get out of that race. Standing on the podium in a World Cup for the second time this season, the feeling is indescribable!" she said.
"These results have come as a huge surprise and have given me confidence to race against girls I thought were out of my league."
McConnell, who coaches Henderson with the pair travelling the World Cup circuit, is Australia's top ranked rider in the men's elite cross country at number 41. He is 12 places ahead of compatriot Chris Jongewaard and won the 2012 Australian title and Oceania Continental Championship crown to seal his second Games berth.
Not only is McConnell off to a second Games, but he carries on a proud family legacy. His mother, Jenny competed at the 1972 Munich Olympics in the 1500m athletics.
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