As usual, my final column for the year look back on some of the highlights from the Cycling Southland year.
Each of these deserve more words than this column's word limit can provide, but collectively they add up to one helluva year for the sport in the south. So let's get started.
Cycling Southland members Nicky Samuels and James Williamson complete a remarkable double in winning both the elite titles at the Road Nationals in Christchurch. Matt Archibald and Eddie Dawkins earn World Cup bronze in the Team Sprint in Beijing while Cam Karwowski earns the same coloured medal in the Team Pursuit. Canterbury's Dylan Kennett takes out the Gore to Invercargill Road classic.
Eddie Dawkins and Natasha Hansen are the star-turns at the Elite Track Nationals in Invercargill winning the trophies for most points by male and female riders while Phillipa Gray and Laura Fairweather give us a taste of things to come by winning bronze at the Para-Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles.
Southland again dominates the Age Group Track Championships, earning 144 points to comfortably defend the National Points Shield, 63 points ahead of its closest region. Kylie Young takes out the Gore to Waikiwi classic while Sophie Williamson and Tom Vessey both earn podium finishes at the Oceania Road Championships, hosted in Queenstown. In the space of 48 hours eight Southlanders are named in World championship squads (three for the Elites and five for the Juniors) and just to top off a busy month we hand out 10 Southland road racing titles across various age groups.
In what ranks at the top of my personal highlight list, Eddie Dawkins becomes the first man to break the 10 second mark in the Men's Sprint on one of the biggest stages imaginable - the UCI World Championships in Melbourne. Eddie and Matt Archibald finish qualifying in the top 12 in the world. Eddie also earns New Zealand's first World Championship sprint medal, winning bronze in the Team Sprint. I feel very privileged to have watched it from the infield at Hisense Arena. Another 14 titles are handed out at the Southland Time Trial Champs and Eddie Dawkins and Natasha Hansen are named in NZ's Olympic team.
Sophie Williamson goes back-to-back in winning both the road race and time trial at the Club Road Nationals while Laura Heywood, Jennifer Muhl , Phillipa Gray, Laura Fairweather and Kylie Young also all stand on the medal dais. Tom Scully becomes the first New Zealander to finish in the top three of the prestigious Paris-Roubaix U23 race and somehow I cycle from Queenstown to Invercargill (or most of the way anyway) as part of Westpac's Chopper Appeal.
Steph McKenzie is named Southland's Junior Sportsperson of the Year while Eddie Dawkins and Ross Machejefski both earn finalist spots at the ILT Southland Sports Awards.
Southland District Council's Cherie Champion, Adrian Buddle, Jamie Cunningham and Mark Day take out the 2012 Harrex Group Corporate Pursuit title, Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de France and we honour Lyn Randall with Life Membership at our AGM.
Eddie Dawkins earns a top five Olympic result in the Men's Team Sprint while Natasha Hansen features prominently in her Olympic debut and the UCI Juniors Track World Championships are staged in Invercargill. New Zealand win seven silver and three bronze medals and an unprecedented five world record rides are recorded. Brilliantly supported by spectators and the wider Southland community, Cycling Southland delivers the best ever Junior World Champs and stamped the city and our velodrome on the world stage.
Phillipa Gray and Laura Fairweather combine for a full set of Paralympic medals at the London Paralympics. The pair smash the world record in winning gold in the Individual Pursuit after taking bronze in the Time Trial and then completed their set with silver in the road Time Trial. Sophie Williamson rides strongly to just miss a medal in her final race as a junior at the World Road Championships in Holland while Andy McIntyre takes out the Murray McLeay Trophy on Cycling Southland's Memorial Weekend.
A record field of 189 takes to the roads in our annual Yunca Junior Tour of Southland. The weather gods don't play ball on the Saturday in Te Tipua but the sunshine returned for some exciting climaxes on the final day. At the Velodrome the first track event of the new season shows the unquestionable talent coming through the Junior ranks and stamp Australian Jack Edwards as a freakish talent and a name to watch as a future superstar of the sport.
The final PowerNet-sponsored Tour of Southland ends in appropriate fashion with the race lead changing on the final stage of the week long race. Node 4-Subaru's Mike Northey claims a hugely popular victory on the ride to Gala Street. A record 17 Southlanders line up at the Oceania Track Championships in Adelaide. They return with 15 medals including an incredible Southland trifecta with Eddie Dawkins, Cam Karwowski and Matt Dodds finishing 1,2,3 in the Men's kilo.
James Hargest retain the Secondary School track cycling title by a solitary point, two national records fall at the Southland Track Championships and Jeremy Presbury and Liam Aitcheson are named to ride at the Sydney Youth Olympic Festival in January. Sophie Williamson is named BikeNZ's Emerging Talent while she, Eddie Dawkins and Phillipa Gray all feature in the Halberg Award nominees.
Let's do it all again in 2013. Happy New Year.
Nick Jeffrey is Cycling Southland's Chief Executive