Aaron Gate's Road to Redemption: Paris Olympics Beckon

New Zealand cyclist Aaron Gate aims to atone for his crash at the Tokyo Olympics by seeking a medal at the Paris Games. After overcoming a severe crash and collarbone injury, Gate has excelled on the world stage and is eyeing success in the team pursuit and other events.

Reuters | Updated: 31-05-2024 09:52 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 09:52 IST
Aaron Gate's Road to Redemption: Paris Olympics Beckon

New Zealand cyclist Aaron Gate will be on a mission at the Paris Olympics to make up for a crash at the Tokyo velodrome three years ago which denied the nation a medal in the men's team pursuit.

Gate came off his bike at high speed after clipping the wheel of team mate Jordan Kerby, paving the way for Australia to cruise to an unlikely win in the bronze medal decider. With his heart broken along with his collarbone, the Aucklander apologised to the nation on television before beating a retreat to Belgium for surgery.

Gate has since mounted a string of world podiums and was named New Zealand's Sportsman of the Year in 2023, beating out All Blacks rugby hero Ardie Savea among the finalists. But the Tokyo setback remains a vivid memory for the 33-year-old as Paris looms into view.

"The worst thing for me was just letting the team down," he told Reuters in an interview from his home base in Andorra. "We'd put in so much work to be there and we were absolutely firing. We were going the best a New Zealand team pursuit has ever gone.

"That's why I've been really focused on delivering my job for the team for this current Games through the entire cycle." Gate can be satisfied he has done that much, helping New Zealand to bronze medals in the team pursuit and Madison at last year's world championships in Glasgow.

That followed a sensational Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where he won the individual pursuit, points race and team pursuit titles along with a bonus, fourth gold medal in the road race. Winning the team pursuit at Birmingham was a special moment as Gate celebrated gold with Kerby.

"It was a little bit of redemption in a way because it was also the last race for my team mate. It felt pretty special to wind up with him again and win that gold as a consolation of sorts." BIG BREAK

While Gate's rebound from Tokyo has been superb, his recovery from the collarbone injury was an ordeal. Eager to plunge himself back into road racing in Europe to salvage something from the COVID-hit season, Gate rushed things and paid dearly for it.

"I ballsed the recovery up a bit because I was so eager to get back into it," he said with a rueful laugh. "I ended up getting the operation site infected, which required two further operations -- to first remove the infection which didn't quite work and then having to get the plate removed three months down the track."

But the complications proved a blessing in disguise when Gate broke the same collarbone two years later with a crash at the Tour of Denmark. "You can end up having even more damage when you've got titanium screws in there doing all sorts of carnage," said Gate, who an Olympic bronze in the team pursuit at London 2012.

"I'm taking that as my last big break before building for Paris, touch wood. It's all been smooth sailing since then." Gate's bid for a second Olympic team pursuit medal is locked in with Tom Sexton, Keegan Hornblow and Campbell Stewart, who took silver in the Omnium race at Tokyo.

Gate is also in line for the Madison and well placed to edge Stewart for the sole Omnium berth, depending on form and times up to Paris. After COVID-19 protocols banned fans from the Tokyo Olympics, he is looking forward to the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Velodrome being packed at the Paris Games.

"It's going to be a fast track with some fast times," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we see world records falling."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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