It was dumb but I’m no thief

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Disgraced Queenstown Winter Olympian Tim Cafe can’t explain drink-driving a stranger’s vehicle but maintains he’s no car thief. 

The 22-year-old ski racer, in his only interview since name suppression was lifted on Monday, says he has no rational explanation for his May 1 shocker on Frankton Road. 

“I was intoxicated, I wasn’t thinking straight,” he says, a day after Judge Dominic Flatley told Cafe he’d be treated no differently from anyone else. 

At about 3.30am, Cafe had got into a parked Subaru Legacy, which his key started, and drove about 100 metres, police prosecutor Ian Collin told Queenstown District Court. Soon after he got into another vehicle on Adelaide Street, later telling police he thought the first car was his and he wanted to sleep in the second one. 

Cafe: “It was a stupid thing to do. I can’t give you a rational basis behind it but I wasn’t trying to steal any cars. 

It’s a real wake-up call that I need to start acting a bit more like an adult. It doesn’t change my goals in ski racing. 

If anything, it’s fuelled me to try harder.” 

Cafe, who came 34th in Super G at Vancouver’s Winter Olympics in February, has started community service at Lakes District Hospital and had an alcohol education session. 

“I didn’t treat alcohol well on that occasion so I’ve got something to learn.” 

He had met mates downtown for a few drinks but wasn’t planning a “big party night”. 

The Queenstown golden boy, awarded a Bruce Grant Youth Trust special achiever grant of $14,025 last year, says he’s sorry to the community, the owners of the cars and his “disappointed” parents. 

He hopes it won’t affect sponsorship but admits it “won’t make it any easier”. 

Kris Vermeir, co-owner of sponsor Browns Ski Shop, says Cafe’s actions were “dumb” but his company will stick with him. 

Cafe finds out on August 23 if he’ll be discharged without conviction for the dishonesty offences – important for travel plans and his dream to become a lawyer. 

“It’s kind of ironic now but law’s always been a desire.”