Olympic mountain biker Karen Hanlen is a late addition to the Commonwealth Games team after successful surgery to correct a career-ending issue.
Hanlen’s nomination was endorsed by the New Zealand Olympic Committee today and she will join Queenstown’s Karen Fluker in the women’s line-up for the cross country race in Glasgow.
It marks a roller-coaster year for the London Olympian who contemplated retirement earlier this year after she was unable to overcome issues that would result in a slow opening lap in her races, accompanied by leg pain.
Hanlen reversed that decision after she was diagnosed with exercised-induced asthma in January, which she hoped would solve her frustrations but the problem returned in the opening round of the UCI World Cup in South Africa in May.
BikeNZ and High Performance Sport medical staff believed the problem related to narrowing in the main artery in the leg, a medical issue that is not uncommon with cyclists because of their riding position.
The surgery last month was a success, and BikeNZ High Performance Director, Mark Elliott said Hanlen was back on her bike and on target for Glasgow.
“It’s a real relief for Karen because she has had issues for the last couple of years and unable to pinpoint the reasons for her slow opening lap in races that would see her drift back through the field,” Elliott said. “She already feels the benefits and her training programme has her back on track for Glasgow.
“Even with this issue, her results in New Zealand and the World Cup were sufficient to earn a nomination, which has been supported by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.” Hanlen plans to head to Europe next month for a lead-up race ahead of the Commonwealth Games. She joins fellow mountain bikers Anton, Cooper, Sam Gaze and Fluker for the cross country race on Tuesday 29 July.