12th December 2011: Jason Allen's Olympic dream is alive again. The former Marlborough Sportsperson of the Year and Commonwealth Games track cyclist is off to Beijing in February with the New Zealand team to contest the third World Cup meeting of the season.
A regular in the New Zealand track team, in particular the team pursuit, during the mid to late-2000s, Allen has been on the outer in recent years but bounced back recently with some outstanding performances, including a gold and silver medal at the Oceania Games at Invercargill last month.
Now based in Christchurch, the 30-year-old said the Tour of Southland road event was actually the race that sparked a return to form on the track.
"I got invited to go to an Olympic Games selection competition at Invercargill at the end of October. Things for me didn't really go that well down there. It was a bit of a shock to the system again getting back into it. I sort of came out of it a bit disappointed. Had some great days but some really crappy ones as well.
"Went from there feeling not that great, then into the Tour of Southland and had an absolute blinder down there. Probably the best I've ever gone."
Allen rode for the Calder Stewart team which included New Zealand track stars Hayden Roulston, Marc Ryan and Sam Bewley, and they won the teams time trial, Allen was second on a stage and almost won the last stage, pipped for line hours over the last few hundred metres.
"They were really supportive. I had great legs and they were telling me, `man you are absolutely flying'. I got a bit of confidence back ... from them and I went into the Oceania Games competition with a lot more self-confidence."
Allen worked hard on the track leading up to the Games and it paid off when he won a bronze medal in the omnium and a gold with Tom Scully in the madison.
"Tom Scully approached me two days before the madison and said `do you fancy having a spin in the madison?' I wasn't meant to do it. It hadn't really been on the radar because it was on the final night after we'd done the individual pursuit and kilo time trial in the omnium.
"I was actually pretty smashed and you were up against guys who were going into the event fresh. I rode into the event and had an absolute blinder at that as well."
Allen was pleasantly surprised when New Zealand track coach Tim Carswell approached him afterwards and said the gold medal win was icing on the cake because they had already decided to pick him to ride at the next World Cup in Beijing.
The New Zealand team goes into camp at Invercargill on January 7 to prepare but in the meantime Allen is riding today at the criterium national champs in Auckland, then next week heads to Melbourne with another former Marlborough rider, Cameron Karwowski, to contest the Australian madison champs.
He's hopeful of making the London Olympics next year but knows he has a huge mountain to climb to get there.
"At least I'm on the inside now and not on the outside looking in," he said.
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