07/03/2011 - Southland’s domination of the RaboDirect National Track Championships was completed on Saturday night. At the end of eight days of Elite and Age Group racing Southland finished atop the National Points Shield leader board. Congratulations to Daylight who was second. For the record Southland finished on 173 points with Auckland the next best on 82. Baseball has the mercy rule, which sees a match called off early when one side gets so far ahead of the other. Should Track Cycling investigate something similar?
I jest of course (sort of). The reality is Southland, on pure numbers alone, should win the Shield. With a world class facility at our back door, there would be problems if we didn’t. The impressive thing for me was the manner in which the win was achieved.
The danger with listing individuals is that worthy names are missed out. Justifiably names like Natasha Hansen, Tom Scully, Matt Archibald, Steph McKenzie, Michael Culling, Sophie Williamson, Jacqui Dearlove, Erin Criglington and Bruce Jones have all grabbed headlines in this fine publication over the last week. Williamson does deserve particular mention. She showed just what a class act she is, winning five of the six Omnium events as a first year Under 19. There’s some future ahead of that young lady.
But, as is so often the case, some great tales lurk under the headlines. The spirit in the camp was epitomised by the story of young Laura Heywood. After featuring in the Southland Times last week, she suffered a nasty crash on the opening night of the Age Group Champs (don’t feel bad about putting the hex on her Nathan). Many of us were surprised (and more than delighted) to see her line up the very next day in the Under 17 Team Pursuit. I watched her come out of the starting gate with what I thought was a determined grimace on her face. Turns out she was being pushed to the brink by the pain coursing through her body from her collar-bone which turned out to be broken. There was no way she wasn’t going to help her team mates and she, along with mates Jen Muhl and Brooke Brazier pushed Auckland all the way and got within half a second of the gold medal - an incredible performance of courage and determination. I don’t know too many 15 year olds who would have done the same.
Nathan Burdon was right on the money in his column on Saturday regarding the volunteers and officials’ contribution to the event. Volunteer hours will push towards 5000 for these Champs. We just couldn’t do it without them and are in their debt, as always.
Like the Southland squad on the track, it’s a good feeling to be a small part of a great team effort to deliver one of the best National Championships. There are no medals or trophies for our volunteers and, aside from Saturday’s column, too little recognition.
We’re going to do our best to change that.
Nick Jeffrey is the Chief Executive of Cycling Southland