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by Alexia Johnston

New Zealand will be represented on the world bike polo stage following a Timaru team’s success in Melbourne last weekend.
The team, Timaru Bike Polo, made up of Ashley Manson, Karl Whittleston, Richard Brown, Sam Callander and Mike Broadhead, competed at the Australasian Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships from April 7-9, with the aim of qualifying for the world champs, taking place later in the year.
Timaru Bike Polo was placed fourth, securing itself a spot at the World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships in Lexington, Kentucky, from October 3-7.
Broadhead was also named most improved player of the tournament.
The team won its qualifying game against FFS 4-1, which came as a relief, Manson said.
“We beat them 7-3 on the second day – I wouldn’t say easily, but we had a really, really good game. But, when we were playing them the second time, [it was tougher] when everything was on the line,” he said.
“What we were there to achieve was there for us to get [so] the stress levels were a lot higher.
“That was the one game we had to win.
“Mission accomplished, now the hard work begins,” he said.
That hard work would involve a lot more training.
“There will be lots of long cold nights.”.
The group would also start looking at ways to raise the $10,000 each member needs to make the trip.
Timaru’s world qualifiers had some “tough” games at the Australasian event, but it was the top team, The Spectres, who they were most impressed with after they were left short of a player for about 98% of the tournament due to injury.
A development team from Timaru, named Timaru Bike Polo B, made up of Shannon Hardacre, Shannon Sim and two Australian players, was placed ninth equal.
Whittleston said the support the Timaru Bike Polo team had received was great while away and on their return.