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Olympian Hanlen keeps close to home

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Whakatane’s Karen Hanlen on her way to victory in the women’s cross country race at the New Zealand MTB Nationals

Whakatane’s Karen Hanlen on her way to victory in the women’s cross country race at the New Zealand MTB Nationals (Image credit: Alan Ofsoski)
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Karen Hanlen on her way to a win in the Mt. Victoria round of the New Zealand MTB Cup

Karen Hanlen on her way to a win in the Mt. Victoria round of the New Zealand MTB Cup (Image credit: Peter Marshall)
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Karen Hanlen (8), Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike Team) and Annie Last (Milka Brentjens MTB Racing Team) lead the first time up the first climb

Karen Hanlen (8), Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike Team) and Annie Last (Milka Brentjens MTB Racing Team) lead the first time up the first climb (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

Olympian Karen Hanlen successfully defended her cross country national title at the New Zealand Mountain Bike National Championships in Rotorua last weekend. However, despite her victory and her proven ability abroad, the Whakatane rider is using this year to stay closer to home.

She will try some alternative events, although she still has a firm focus on next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Hanlen, a mother of two, is not planning a prolonged riding stint in Europe this year. "I have decided to stay closer to home and race more of our long distance iconic events."

This includes the Oceania Championships in Tasmania in Australia next month, and she is also hoping to again compete in the national Xterra Championships in Rotorua in April.

"I plan to have another go at Xterra if I can get myself accustomed to swimming and running again."

She hopes to also contest the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships which are in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in late August.

"While I won't be in Europe, there is still plenty to keep me busy. My big focus is on next year's Commonwealth games in Scotland and so 2013 is about having more time with family and saving hard to make it all possible."