28/03/2011 - Sunday more or less summarised in a nutshell what Cycling Southland is all about.
It started with a 4am alarm (something for which I am paying for as I write this) to watch Eddie Dawkins line up in the final of the Keirin and Shane Archbold finish strongly to claim silver in the Omnium at the World Track Championships. Big Ed made it through to the last six from a field of 33 – a wonderful achievement and great experience, lining up alongside the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and eventual winner Shane Perkins on the biggest stage of this year.
A lot has been made of the youthful New Zealand sprint programme’s rapid development. When you consider Hoy turned 36 this week, at just 21 years of age, Eddie has a lot of time ahead of him and who knows how many more finals appearances and chances for World Championship and Olympic glory. The same can be said for Tom Scully who rode with Auckland’s Aaron Gate in the Madison overnight. Two young men who have again proved this week that the world is at their feet.
A few hours (and as many coffees) later, I departed for Wyndham, scene of the Southland Road Championships. Provincial titles shouldn’t be easy things to win and let me tell you, those who took medals at this year’s championships deserved them. There was some rain about but it wasn’t until we sent our morning fields on their way that the southerly picked up and the rain got heavier. It turned the day into a war of attrition and in the end the Senior and Under 19 Men’s fields, who had to brave the elements for three hours over their 110 kilometre journey, saw just seven of the 20 starters make it to the finishing tape.
Days like that always confirm to me how committed Cycling Southland’s club riders are. And it meant Wyndham Takeaways did rip-roaring trade in coffee and hot chips (and that was just from me).
That 12 hour period showed all that was wonderful about the sport of cycling in Southland. Elite athletes who have honed their trade at the ILT Velodrome, footing it with the world’s best in the Netherlands, our local club riders punishing themselves on the challenging course with the elements against them supported by a loyal crew of volunteers and officials making it all possible by assisting with the delivery of another safe, well-run cycling event. That’s the nutshell I referred to earlier and it’s great to be a part of it.
This Wednesday the Southland Secondary School Track Championships are being held at the ILT Velodrome with riders from Southland, Central Otago and some northern visitors lining up to ride for their school. James Hargest was able to hold off Southland Boys and Girls Highs last year. Fellow team mates from Southland’s recent dominant performance at the National Age Group Track Nationals become rivals. Should be good sport.
I better go – another early alarm awaits.
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland