Veteran athletes chasing not only those gold medals

By David Ogilvie

Have bike, will ride it.

But in Palmerston North's Mike McRedmond's case, it's a little different now from the track bike he won so many titles on.

An ANZ Bank officer, McRedmond is the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games sprint silver medallist and a five-time national sprint titleholder.

But he won't be turning out at the New Zealand Masters in Wanganui on his old track bike instead he'll be trying out the mountain bike cross-country event.

"I have entered the cross-country mountain-biking, which I do expect to be a bit of a challenge," he says.

"After I rode the Otago Rail Trial in March last year, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I went out and bought myself a mountain bike.

"Along with a few mates, I then competed in the 12-hour team events at Rotorua and Taupo."

Nothing like starting into something a little tough.

"I like to think I am reasonably competitive but mountain-biking is certainly a very different discipline to what road or track racing is," McRedmond says.

"You certainly need a different set of skills and technique is really important if you want to stay upright.

In terms of serious cycling competition, it has been about 15 years since he last raced.

"I like to keep myself fit and in shape so try get out on the road bike two or three times a week."

These days, McRedmond spends a lot of time coaching the young up-and-coming cyclists and has enjoyed considerable success with the likes of Olympic medallists Jesse Sergent and Simon Van Velthooven.

As McRedmond and Manawatu cyclists have been supporters of Wanganui's Velodrome, the area's sports people have also got behind the Wanganui Masters Games over the years, with entries now well over the 500 mark.

Pursued by Wellington, of course.

As numbers from the Wellington area hit the 500 mark, the many entries of Lower Hutt athlete Gary Rawson typified the kind of athlete the games thrive on.

Rawson (53) has been a consistent visitor to the games in Wanganui, and he's got a bundle of medals to prove it.

Two years ago, for instance, he competed in six athletic events and has six gold medals in his 50-plus age-group.

This time he's back for more and in the same age-group (50-54) but suggests the atmosphere of the New Zealand Masters has as much appeal as the actual competition.

"I come to the New Zealand Masters Games every second year when it's at Wanganui - Dunedin's too far for me," says Rawson.

But he has competed in Masters athletics at local, national and international level.

"I'm mainly a sprinter and jumper but like the throwing events so enter them for fun," says Rawson.

"I have gained at least three medals per games, mostly gold, and hope to do better each time."

Like at Wanganui in 2011 where he won his age-group in the 100m and 200m, the long jump, triple jump, discus and javelin.

His effort in the triple jump was the longest in any age-group, although at 10.84m was not going to set any national records.

But that's not what Masters Games are about they're there to keep people competing and making friends.

"I have been entering for the past 10 years and really enjoy the atmosphere at Masters Games," Rawson says.

He also has a strong interest in football and would like to be playing that in Wanganui, but those games clash with athletics events.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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