Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter burst a blood vessel in his leg while representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games of motocross - but that wasn't enough for him to accept defeat.

The New Zealand Open Class rider made up one third of the of the New Zealand team, with Maunganui's Cody Cooper and Auckland-based former Takaka man Hamish Harwood (KTM), flying the Kiwi flag at the 72nd annual Motocross of Nations, held in the United States last weekend.

The competition was packed with drama throughout the two days of qualification and points race action at the damp Red Bud circuit at Buchanan, in Michigan. But the three-rider team from New Zealand battled through to finish 18th out of 30 countries.

Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper was Team NZ's designated MXGP class rider and he finished 11th and 32nd in his two outings. Harwood, the team's MX2 (250cc) class rider, was forced to withdraw from the first of his two races when his engine overheated, but he returned for the next race and finished 29th out of the 38 riders who started.

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Carter crashed early on Sunday morning, suffering a nasty haematoma on his leg. Despite the major setback he refused to give up and lined up for the afternoon's races to avoid losing points.

Had he not started, Carter would have accrued maximum penalty points so he finished the course to gain valuable points for his team and his 37th and 35th placings were enough to help boost New Zealand above several of the other qualifying countries.

Team New Zealand co-manager Bevan Weal said New Zealand could feel extremely proud of what the team achieved and the bravery shown by Carter was impressive.

"When Rhys [Carter] fell and injured his leg, he burst a blood vessel, but he simply put in his mouthguard, bit down on it, and circulated for points. Although obviously in pain, he still finished both of his races.

"We could possibly have done better, but there can be no faulting the determination and commitment shown by everyone and the amount of work put in by [co-manager] Shayne King was tremendous. We were helped too by the American who loaned us the pit truck for the weekend, David Eller, and he was a real fan of the Kiwis."

Next year's Motocross of Nations is set for the infield of the Dutch road-race facility at Assen.

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