SIMON van Velthooven has invited the whole of New Zealand to his belated 21st birthday party after winning an Olympic bronze medal in the keirin yesterday.
Now aged 23, his cycling commitments had prevented an earlier celebration, so a monster bash will be held on the family farm in Manawatu just before Christmas.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve been home for an extended period and I’ve got to go straight to Japan from here and I’m there till mid-December. Last Christmas we sat down and mum and dad said ‘you might as well have a big party after being at the Games then being in Japan for four months’. We locked in December 22, Saturday night before Christmas,” he told Fairfax NZ.
“At the old farm in Manawatu, there’ll be a big barbecue and a sheep on the spit and a few brews handed out. It’s a 48 hour open home so anyone’s invited.”
Van Velthooven claimed New Zealand’s second medal in the velodrome in dramatic circumstances, with a desperate final lunge seeing him in a dead-heat for third with Dutchman Teun Mulder.
Chris Hoy won gold, his second of London 2012 and sixth overall.
Van Velthooven said he was overwhelmed by the messages of support from home.
“It’s crazy. There’s so many people that follow sport and love sport and love exciting things. For them to see someone they know competing against the world’s best… if I knew someone at the Olympics I’d be following them for sure.
“I didn’t get much sleep; it’s kind of hard to sleep when you’re smiling. You just have a nap, wake up and think, shit, I won an Olympic medal. You have another nap, check some messages, have another nap, then it’s only been 20 minutes and you think ‘what do I do now?'”
Following the games he heads to Japan to race in their pro Keirin league, before going home for Christmas and possibly the biggest party New Zealand has seen.