Date: Wednesday, 09 March 2016

Southland cyclist Corbin Strong is setting his standards high heading into the Age Group Track Cycling National Championships in Invercargill this week.

The 15-year-old is aiming to improve on his three gold medals and a bronze from last year's meeting when he lines up in seven disciplines across five days at the SIT Velodrome.

"Last year I got three golds and a bronze, I'm hoping to do that again, if not better," he said.

One of his goals is to claim a gold medal in the 2000m individual pursuit and claim a new national record in the process.

"A couple of months ago I was 0.3 seconds off it," he said.

"It is what I have been focussing on with my training."

The individual pursuit is the Southland Boys' High School student's favourite discipline.

"It is my preferred event, as it is always the strongest rider that wins, you can't have a rider that gets lucky and wins," he said.

The under-17 rider is hoping that an impressive showing this week on his home track, will allow him to gain selection in the New Zealand under-19 team for the Oceania championships in Adelaide in October.

"They will probably be looking at our performances in this event to get selected for the Under 19 Oceania Champs in Australia," he said.

He won't have things all his own way this week, with Wellington's George Jackson and Hamish Keast from Southland likely to challenge for bragging rights.

Meanwhile, Southland holds an impressive lead on 69 points as they attempt to retain the NZACA Points Shield.

"It would be good to finish that off, the under-19s and elites gave us a good headstart," Strong said.

Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton said although Southland held a 29 point advantage over nearest team Auckland, after the elite champs, held in Cambridge last month, the southern riders would be relying on local support to ensure the shield stayed in the province.

"We're extremely proud of our record over recent years in this competition and I know other provinces will be keen to take it from us, especially in our backyard," Hotton said.

"Southland riders have been training for months for this event and after the impressive efforts the elite and U19 riders produced in Cambridge, the remaining riders will want to do their bit to ensure the shield stays in Southland."

More than 220 riders, including 44 Southland cyclists, will be participating in the U15, U17, and masters divisions and the U19 omnium at the event which runs from Wednesday until Sunday.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of New Zealand's first covered velodrome, with tickets for evening sessions $10 each for adults to celebrate, while children under 16 are free.

At a glance

What: Age Group National Track Cycling Championships

Where: SIT Velodrome

When: Wednesday to Sunday, first session Wednesday 5pm.

Who: U15, U17, masters and U19 omnium cyclists.

Cost: From $5 for day sessions and $10 evening sessions, children under 16 free.

Article and photo courtesy of Stuff

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