This week we were paid a visit by a couple of good blokes from up north somewhere who wanted to get a handle on how one of these velodrome things worked. They were looking at the feasibility of building a similar community facility for their home patch.
Our two visitors timing couldn't have been better as they watched a class from James Hargest being put through their paces in an NCEA-accredited track cycling course on the track, while another group bounced around in the courts in the middle of the track and both lounges upstairs hosted corporate meetings and workshops.
I used to think Invercargill was lucky to have a facility of this quality, but now I realise that luck has nothing to do with it. Those visionary sport and community leaders and funders didn't roll the dice and just hope for the best a decade ago. They did their homework, didn't cut corners and built a facility that delivers at all levels - from international high performers to local students trying track for the first time. It provided a great example to our northern visitors and it is again emphasised by some of the cycling activities over this past week.
Eddie Dawkins continued to dominate to sprinting world. After a string of solid performances in Europe he backed up from an arduous travel schedule to win both the keirin and sprint on consecutive nights at the International Track Series in Adelaide this week. If their medal-winning deeds at the last two world championships announced NZ's arrival as an international cycling sprint powerhouse, the effort this off-season, lead by Eddie (along with Cycling Southland's Matt Archibald) has put an exclamation point on it.
Earlier this week Jeremy Presbury and Josh Haggerty flew out to Europe where they will link with Alexandra's Liam Aitcheson and the rest of the nine-strong BikeNZ squad to complete preparations ahead on next month's UCI Junior World Track Championships in Glasgow. Jeremy will line up as the number one ranked junior keirin rider in the world - in case you glossed over that last sentence, go back and re-read it now! All three travel as realistic medal prospects and they've had the luxury of building up on a world class facility here in Invercargill.
Southlanders also performed with distinction at this weekend's South Island Secondary Schools Road Cycling Champs at Ruapuna. Hamish Keast took double gold in the U14 boys while Tom Sexton took out the U16 road race title in bitterly cold conditions yesterday, backing up from his individual bronze and team gold during Saturday's time trials. Sam Miller, Hamish Beadle, Brayden Stephens, Hayden and Corbin Strong, Nick Kergozou and Josh van den Arend also stepped on to the podium over the weekend.
It's another long list of outstanding results from a random week in the year and one way or another, they can be linked to the foresight of those a decade ago who decided Invercargill could build an indoor velodrome, when no-one else had. Good idea that!
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland