Peachland's Evan Guthrie has a busy year planned on the international mountain biking circuit.

Guthrie takes aim at Rio

24-year-old mountain biker from Peachland has big goals for 2016, his third season on the senior circuit

In 2016, Evan Guthrie hopes all paths will ultimately lead to Rio.

The 24-year-old mountain biker from Peachland will pour the majority of his energy this year into earning a spot on Canada’s team for the Olympic Games in Brazil.

“I’m aiming big,” Guthrie said of his quest for an Olympic berth. “I’ve been dreaming about (the Olympics) for a long time, so it’s time to make a push and shoot for the stars. I’m believing in myself every day and training hard.”

The 2008 and 2009 national junior champion, Guthrie is heading into his third full season on the senior cross country mountain biking circuit.

In 2014, he finished fifth overall at nationals, just 20 seconds shy of a bronze medal.  Last summer, in 2015, he was close again with a fourth-place showing at the Canadian championships in St. Felicien, Que.

With two years of senior competition under his belt, Guthrie feels prepared and motivated to take his racing to another level.

“It’s a big step up to senior, there are so many barriers at this level, you can’t help but learn from the older riders…it’s pretty motivating,” Guthrie said. “This year I’ve trained a lot more, trying to improve certain aspects of my racing.

“Sometimes it takes 12 to 24 months for your training to pay off, but I feel like I’m in a good place.

“You set the bar high and dreams start to become reality,” he said. “It’s a cool thing when that happens.”

One aspect of Guthrie’s mountain biking that doesn’t need any upgrading is his passion for the sport.

A love of the outdoors and being physically active have been two key ingredients in his success to date.

“I love the sport, number one, because it’s fun,” said Guthrie. “I’m outside and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. Over time, doing what I’m doing has just created that passion and a pursuit of bigger goals.”

Whether Guthrie earns one of two berths on Canada’s team for the Olympics will ultimately hinge on how he performs in major international events this season.

He’ll compete in his first World Cup in April in Australia. After two more World Cups in May in Germany and France, Guthrie will head to the world championships in the Czech Republic.

And even if he doesn’t qualify for Rio this summer, Guthrie assures the Olympic dream will remain alive and well.

“I’m still young and no matter what happens, I plan to be pursuing this through the next cycle (2020),” he said. “I’m in a position now where pursuing an Olympic berth this year is something that’s not unreasonable at all. I guess that’s why I feel good about my chances.”

Based on his own experiences in sports, Guthrie is an also avid supporter of young local athletes who, like himself, are striving to reach their goals.

Guthrie will connect with many of those athletes on Feb. 10 as the guest speaker during the Community Sport Hero Awards at the Rotary Centre for the Arts.