Van Velthooven was clearly ecstatic when he took his place on the Olympic velodrome podium last night after winning a bronze medal for New Zealand to Chris Hoy’s gold. So much so that he is throwing a party and everyone is welcome.
Last night’s medal was New Zealand’s 9th in the London 2012 Games, and its 99th ever. Van Velthooven immediately dubbed his prize “the nation’s medal”.
This morning the Kiwi Olympic athlete was still feeling jubilant and spontaneously issued an open invitation to his 21st birthday party. The (possibly large) knees-up will be held at the van Velthooven family farm in Manawatu, between Palmerston North and Feilding.
Although van Velthooven is now 23, his Olympic training got in the way of properly celebrating his 21st so he’s planning a belated party.
“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 said.
“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’s invitation was inspired by the tidal wave of support sent to him by compatriots.
“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,” he said. “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?'”
Van Velthooven won bronze in the London 2012 keirin last night after a nail-biting delay as the commissaires tried to separate him from the Netherlands’ Teun Mulder. In the end both athletes were awarded joint bronze.
Van Velthooven is heading straight to Japan to race in their pro keirin league so he won’t be planning his party this month. However there’s plenty of time for him to get in the beers before December 22. See you there!
Image: Bronze medalists Netherlands’s Teun Mulder (L) and New Zealand’s Simon Van Velthooven (R) pose on the podium during the medal ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games men’s keirin (Getty)