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by Alexia Johnston

Timaru bike polo players are heading across the ditch in the hope of securing a spot at the world championships.
Two teams from Timaru will make the trip, along with a support crew, for the Australasian Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships (AHBPC) in Melbourne from April 7-9.
One Timaru team, made up of Richard Brown, Sam Callander, Ashley Manson, Mike Broadhead and Karl Whittleston, will aim to finish in the top four, which would secure them a place at the World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships in Lexington, Kentucky, from October 3-7.
A development team from Timaru, made up of Shannon Hardacre, Shannon Sim and Criss Hathaway, will also attend the Australasians next month and while they expect to be competitive, they are not looking to secure a spot on the world stage.
Eighteen teams have registered for the tournament and each will play about four games over three days.
The Timaru teams would be the only ones to represent New Zealand, Karl Whittleston said.
If successful, players would start applying for grants almost immediately, to help fund their trip to the United States.
Ashley Manson said the dream of representing his country overseas – on the world stage – was finally within reach.
“I’m 37 and I finallyget to represent my country at an international level.”
The sport has gained some traction in Timaru since the town played host to the world championships in February 2016.
“There’s 12 to 15 regular members and up to about 25 players that come when they can between family and work commitments,” Whittleston said.
The Timaru bike polo calendar includes events such as Sunday Pick Up, which allows teams to mix up, and league competitions on Tuesday nights.