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Mountain biking McConnells making history in Tokyo

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With the selection of Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Dan and Bec McConnell to the Tokyo Olympic team, the husband and wife pair will make history becoming the most capped Australian Olympic mountain bikers in history.

Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist Daniel McConnell has made history by becoming the first Australian to make four Olympic team in mountain bike with his selection to the Tokyo Games, with Bec McConnell heading to her third Olympics, the most for any Australian female competitor.

Daniel made his Olympic debut at the Beijing 2008 Olympics finishing 39th, going on to finish 21st at the London 2012 Olympics, before representing Australia at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games when mountain biking returned to the sports programme after not being included at the Delhi 2010 Games.

In Scotland, Daniel finished third behind the New Zealand duo of Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze, just Australia’s second-ever medal in the sport.

The result in Glasgow secured Daniel selection to his third Olympic team for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

In the race on the Brazilian trials, Daniel sat inside the top three after the opening lap but a broken wheel soon ruined his chances of a top ten finish, with McConnell eventually claiming 16th.

In 2017, Daniel married his long-time partner and Commonwealth Games and Olympic teammate Rebecca Henderson.

A year later Daniel competed on home soil in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, where he finished in 7th place.

Hailing from the ACT, Rebecca McConnell first started mountain biking when she was 12-years-old, but quickly became one of Australia’s best juniors in the sport, earning her selection to her first Olympic team at just 20-years-old.

At the London 2012 Olympics, she finished 25th overall behind world U23 champion Julie Bressert (France).

The six-time national champion then qualified for her first Commonwealth Games, where she rode away with the bronze medal in the women’s mountain bike final.

Bec was Australia’s only female mountain bike competitor at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

However, her second Olympic campaign was tough after falling too far behind the leaders due to a back injury, forcing her to withdraw from the competition in 25th position.

After marrying her long-time partner and Olympic teammate Daniel McConnell in 2017, the duo both competed in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Unfortunately, both were unable to back up their bronze medal performances from Glasgow 2014 with Rebecca finishing the event in sixth place.

The mountain bike duo are joined on the team by BMX racers Lauren Reynolds, the first Australian BMX rider to make three Olympics, and Olympic debutant Japanese-born Australian rider Saya Sakakibara.

Along with Logan Martin and Natalya Diehm who will make history as Australia’s first Olympic BMX Freestylers when the discipline makes its Olympic Games debut in Tokyo.

Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman welcomed the riders to the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo.

“Congratulations to all the riders selected ,” Mr Chesterman said.

“Today is a fantastic accomplishment not just for the riders but for Australian Cycling, their coaches, families, friends and supporters who have helped them achieve today’s selection.

“Dan, as a four-time Olympian, and Rebecca and Lauren, both off to their third Games, will all earn a special place in Australian Olympic history in Tokyo and their selection is a reflection of their incredible commitment, perseverance and talent over such a long period of time.

“BMX Freestyle makes its debut giving Logan and Natalya the opportunity to showcase their incredible courage and skill on the world’s biggest sporting stage and for Australians to see this exciting new sport.

“With Mountain Bike and BMX riders joining their track and road teammates, the cycling team for Tokyo will represent Australia with great distinction.”

The additions to the cycling team takes the number of athletes selected to 232 of an expected 450, featuring 88 Commonwealth Games alumni members.

The Mountain Bike competition will run from 26-27 July at Izu MTB Course

BMX Racing will run from 29-30 July at Ariake Urban Sports Park

BMX Freestyle will run from 31 July – 1 August.

Australian Olympic Mountain Bike Team

Name Age State Olympic Games Experience Commonwealth Games Experience
Rebecca McConnell 29 ACT 3rd (2012 & 2016) 2014 – Women's Moutain Bike Cross Country – Bronze; 2018 – Women's Moutain Bike Cross Country – 6th
Daniel McConnell 35 ACT 4th (2008, 2012 & 2016) 2014 – Men's Moutain Bike Cross Country – Bronze; 2018 – Men's Moutain Bike Cross Country – 7th

With thanks Australian Olympic Committee and AusCycling.

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