Tasmania is home to National Mountain Bike Program

The Wildside Race is in Tasmania

The Wildside Race is in Tasmania (Image credit: Rick Eaves / www.rickeaves.com)

The Tasmanian Institute of Sport (TIS) has been selected by Cycling Australia to host Australia's High Performance Mountain Bike Program for the next four years. The Tasmanian Minister for Sport and Recreation, Michelle O'Byrne said the State Government would contribute AUS$400,000 to the program.

"The State Government is committed to supporting the development of Tasmania's elite athletes, and being chosen to host this elite program in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics is a great coup for Tasmania and also great recognition of the TIS as an elite sport development body," O'Byrne said. "It is recognition of the great job done by the TIS this year when it was selected to host the 2008 program.

"The program will be coached by Neil Ross, an experienced, well credentialed coach, who was the Head Coach and Director of Canada's National Cycling Centre and coach of the Canadian National Team. John Gregory, the TIS Sports Performance Manager and a former cross country National Champion, will provide key sports science support to the program."

Having the program based in Tasmania will provide an opportunity to help Tasmanian athletes gain selection for the Australian Olympic team to compete in London. Rowena Fry is one of the athletes likely to benefit.

"Accessing this network will help develop a high-performance culture for the athletes participating in the program. We believe the program will produce the next generation of mountain bikers, rivalling some of the top Tasmanian mountain bike athletes produced in the past."

O'Byrne also pointed out how the selection would highlight Tasmania as a mountain bike destination and thereby help grow tourism. To further help, when competing overseas, representative athletes will wear kit featuring the Tourism Tasmania website address.

The TIS in Launceston will be the base for the program for six months each year, with the athletes heading overseas for competition for the remainder of the time.

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