24 Sep 2010

Henderson first NZ athlete to pull out of Games

11:47 pm on 24 September 2010

New Zealand cyclist Greg Henderson says personal and family reasons are behind his decision not to take part in the Commonwealth Games in India.

The 33-year-old had been selected to compete in the road race and advised a BikeNZ official in Melbourne of his decision. He is the first New Zealand athletes to withdraw from the Delhi Games, which are scheduled to begin on 3 October.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has confirmed it still intends to send a team to the Games, but it will continue to review the situation daily.

Henderson said on Friday he has to think about his wife, former Australian cyclist Katie Mactier, and their little girl Charlie, who don't want him to go. He says at the end of the day, it was a simple decision.

He told TV3's Campbell Live programme that he has to care for his own safety. He says security issues, the threat of catching dengue fever and the photos he saw of the state of the athletes' accommodation at the Games Village made up his mind.

BikeNZ chief executive Kieran Turner says the organisation supports the individual decision of athletes, but is confident that the New Zealand Olympic Committee will make the best decision for the team's involvement.

Mr Turner says athletes' safety and security is his group's No 1 priority and it will not do anything to put them at risk. He says it has sufficient cover within the squad to replace Henderson in the road race.

Henderson won a gold and bronze medal at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 and two bronze medals at the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998.

He is expected to compete at cycling's world championships in Melbourne next weekend with other New Zealanders Hayden Roulston and Julian Dean.

Henderson also rides for the Sky team in Britain.