Rising Southland cycling star Emily Paterson got one up on her male rivals on Saturday night.
She joined an illustrious list of previous champions including Olympic silver medallist Eddie Dawkins and professional road rider Tom Scully when she won the glamour event at the New Year Track Carnival.
The OJ Henderson Memorial 1500m wheel race has been contested by some of New Zealand's best U17 riders at the annual carnival since the mid-1980s and it is believed she is the first female to win the popular event.
The 15-year-old started the U17 mixed race at the 120m mark, about halfway back in the 16-strong field and managed to hang on for the handicap race win.
Emily Paterson joined an illustrious list of previous champions in winning the OJ Henderson Memorial 1500m wheel race at
"It's fantastic to think I'm the first women to win this and I hope I can inspire others to follow." "
"There's a lot of great young female riders coming through in the junior ranks at the moment and that's really cool to see."
The race was full of drama, with the James Hargest College student using her handicap well as she sat behind Toby Buckner, who finished second, before she made her move with about 150 metres to go and managed to hold off the fast-finishing backmarkers.
"It was quite a high speed, I did know that there were some highly successful riders racing with me and I just gave it my all," she said.
"I seemed to catch the group in front of me pretty fast, which gave me a bit of confidence and then I could hear my Dad yelling, so I didn't wait up behind them and moved around the bunch."
"It got quite intense at the end, because I was exhausted and I had to pass the person in front of me, it was nerve-racking knowing all the big boys were coming up behind me."
Paterson just edged Buckner, with Canterbury's Erin Downie finishing in third place.
The latest victory for the NZ U17 development team rider continues a purple patch of big race carnival successes on the track, after she defeated international riders to claim the $1000 Open Wheel Race final at the May Magnifique event last year.
"I never used to win the handicap wheel races because in the last half lap you would have all the big people flying past you, but it has been nice to win the two that have been quite important," she said.
Paterson who only usually only rides in mixed races during club meets noticed the difference between riding against the guys and girls during qualifying at the event.
"I was racing boys and they race in such a different way with high intense speed, it was a great experience," she said.
The promising rider who also picked up third in the keirin, enjoyed racing in mixed fields at the meet, which would provide her with quality training for the Age Group Nationals at Cambridge in March.
In the Cycling Southland Open Wheel race, Southland U19 representative Nepai Ruwhiu produced a perfectly-timed run over the final 100m to edge limit rider Tayla Lumsden to take a last gasp victory.
The strong field was unable to make up the handicap difference as Ruwhiu held off a strong challenge from Southland riders Sam Miller and Josh Haggerty for the win.
Miller finished second, while Haggerty was third.
Article and photo courtesy Stuff