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Teenager pips Olympians for major BikeNZ award

Teenager pips Olympians for major BikeNZ award

Teenage mountain biker Anton Cooper beat out cycling’s Olympians to be named 2012 BikeNZ People’s Choice Award winner today, as voted by the New Zealand public.

The 18-year-old from North Canterbury made history earlier this year when he became the first ever UCI cross-country mountain bike World Champion in any age-group from New Zealand.

This performance shot Cooper into the limelight and today, earned him the title of People’s Champion ahead of Olympic medallists Sarah Walker and Simon van Velthooven.

“It’s pretty cool, I guess being voted by the public reflects both sporting ability and also indicates what sort of person you are as well. It’s a pretty cool acknowledgement and a great honour,” said Cooper.

“I think the public is often the truest voting system, rather than a panel of four or five people, so to be recognised by the New Zealand public is really cool.”

It wasn’t all bad for the Olympic cyclists, however, as they snapped up seven of the eight 2012 BikeNZ Rider of the Year awards announced today.

Road riders Jack Bauer (Tasman) and Linda Villumsen (Auckland) won the male and female rider of the year awards in their discipline, following impressive performances in London.

Simon van Velthooven (Manawatu) cashed in on his Olympic bronze medal to win the male track rider of the year, while current Individual Pursuit World Champion Alison Shanks (Dunedin) took the female’s award.

Olympic silver medallist Sarah Walker (Cambridge) was rewarded with female BMX rider of the year, with fellow Olympian Marc Willers (Cambridge) claiming the male’s award.

In mountain bike, it was Olympian Karen Hanlen (Whakatane) who won the female rider of the year award, with Anton Cooper (North Canterbury) adding male rider of the year to his People’s Choice Award.

BikeNZ announced two further awards today, which were judged across all four cycling disciplines.

Teenage road and track rider Sophie Williamson (Central Otago) was crowned Best Emerging Talent in 2012 following a double silver medal haul at the UCI Track World Championships in Invercargill and a fourth placing at the UCI Road World Championships in the Netherlands.

Downhill mountain biker Justin Leov (Dunedin) was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award for his dedication and service to cycling over the past decade. The 28-year-old started racing in 2000 and turned professional just four years later. He races all around the world and is the current National Downhill MTB Champion.

Each of these awards will be presented formally at the four upcoming national championships:
- Elite & U23 Road National Championships (Christchurch) January 10-13
- Mountain Bike National Championships (Rotorua) February 15-17
- BMX National Championships (Waikato) March 29
- Elite & U19 Track National Championships (Invercargill) January 31

For more information on these and other BikeNZ events, visit

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