Southland’s Big Whopper, Eddie Dawkins moved into sprint cycling’s rarefied air on the third day of qualifying at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne.
The 22 year old became the first New Zealander under the magical 10 second barrier in the qualifying for the men’s sprint at the Hisense Arena.
His teammates Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster almost created the upsets of the day in the first elimination rounds when both were centimetres from toppling the triple Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy and Beijing silver medallist Jason Kenny, both from Great Britain respectively.
Mitchell jumped Hoy with three laps remaining and it took all of the great man’s reserves to haul in the kiwi 10m from the line.
Webster stood up Kenny by 10m but closed strongly around the final bend, with a photo finish required to separate the pair.
“He’s the Olympic champion sp I had to go out and take it to him,” said Mitchell. “I had to show him that I was there to win. The move was premeditated. My coach and I had talked about it and set the plan.
“It came off pretty well but I tied up in the last 30m and didn’t quite have the legs. When I was coming in the home straight with one to go I could see my coach running down to urge me on. That’s when I knew I had a gap. I gave it everything but not quite enough."
“I am stoked with how I went. To go out there and ride the Olympic champion so close, I am just stoked. He seemed appreciative and came over to congratulate me after which was great that he showed me that about of respect.”
Earlier Dawkins clocked 9.963s to be seventh fastest overall, taking nearly 0.2sec off his previous best and leading all four kiwi sprinters to qualify for the elimination rounds.
Fellow Invercargill rider Matt Archibald also qualified in 10.034s, with he, Mitchell and Dawkins all establishing significant personal best times.
Dawkins was the only New Zealander to progress to the second round after he proved too strong for American champion Michael Blatchford. He came up against the Olympic silver medallist Kenny in the second round but his bold push on the final lap came up half a wheel short.
He was forced to a repechage with Hoy and Sunderland, with the kiwi pushing to the lead with a lap remaining before the Olympic champion rolled over the top on the last bend to claim the quarterfinal spot.
Archibald lost in the first round to experienced Australian Scott Sunderland.
Meanwhile Timaru’s Shane Archbold remains in sixth place overall in the men’s omnium after finishing seventh in the 4000m individual pursuit in 4:29.248, with two rounds remaining tonight.
Christchurch’s Jo Kiesanowski was 16th in the flying lap in 14.940, the first event of the women’s omnium with the points race and elimination race tonight.
Men’s 200m sprint, qualifying: Gregory Bauge (FRA) 9.854, 1; Robert Foerstemann (GER) 9.873, 2; Kevin Sireau (FRA) 9.893, 3; Chris Hoy (GBR) 9.902, 4; Matthew Glaetzer (AUS) 9.902, 5. Also New Zealanders: Eddie Dawkins 9.963, 7; Matt Archibald 10.034, 12; Sam Webster 10.122, 19; Ethan Mitchell 10.163, 21 (all qualified).
First round: Hoy bt Mitchell, Jason Kenny (GBR) bt Webster, Dawkins bt Michael Blatchford (USA), Scott Sunderland (AUS) bt Archibald.
Quarterfinals: Bauge bt Sunderland, Foerstemann bt Seiichiroi Nakagawa (JPN), Sireau bt Stefan
Repecharge 1: Hoy 1, Sunderland 2, Dawkins 3. Repechage 2: Boetticher 1, Glaetzer 2, Nakagawa 3.