They promised that Thursday, our 4th day here, would be the hottest – up around 40 degrees, and it certainly lived up to expectations, with rain coming in during the afternoon increasing the humidity ten-fold. Good fast racing conditions!
First up were two Southlanders Steph and Tarsh, who sailed through their Keirin heats and straight into the semis. Sweet!
Next up was Aimee in her Individual Pursuit and, in a really consistent ride shaving a good chunk off her PB, she posted a 3.54 to come in 6th. This girl is on the up!
Brad was next in his Pursuit and with a faultless ride, almost perfectly to schedule, he posted a PB of 4.40 to come in 14th in the Elite Men’s competition.
Finally in the morning, was Nick in his Omnium IP, riding over 3km for the first time ever. Once again, a brilliantly consistent ride – so impressive for a young rider who is still technically in the U17 division, posting a 3.34, with tired legs, on the 2nd day of the Omnium. Other Southlanders in action included Mike Culling with a 3.31 and Josh Haggerty with a 3.28. Laura Heywood also had her IP qualifying to post a strong 2.32 over 2kms. Overall, a strong Southland showing in the Pursuits!
As we were packing up to leave for a quick break in between sessions (again leaving Cathy to guard the gear for the hour we were away … she will be needing some daily sauna sessions when she gets back to Invers to wean herself off the hours spent sitting in the Superdrome this week!, the Venue Manager came to say they had just spotted a massive King Brown snake on the grass out the back of the storage containers so to be very wary … we decided it was very wise to limit the amount of activity anywhere near the storage sheds (hence the positioning of Cathy in the track centre with our gear!) and she was banned from leaving the velodrome when we were away!
Back to the track again after a quick freshen up, and Nick had his Omnium Scratch Race as the first event in the evening programme. With a smoking fast final 10 laps, he held his own very well to take out 11th and retain his placing in the Omnium standings, with 1 race left – the torturous Kilo.
Before this, however, was Stephie in the Keirin Semi-final. She slotted into the top 3 in her race to make the Elite Women’s final later on the evening, with some excellent skills in a tight race. Tarsh looked good for a straight run, but unfortunately got boxed in and just missed out on a final spot, but it was a gallant effort after very little track time following a rest period after the Olympics.
Back to Nick and the Kilo … who had tired legs but not a tired heart! He blasted out of the gates, setting the fastest 500m at that point of the competition, holding on for grim death over the final 2 laps to record an extremely impressive 1.08. Overall, an incredibly consistent Omnium for Nick – really great stuff and an exciting couple of years in the U19 division ahead! Mike Culling (also a 1st year U19) wearing the NZ skinsuit posted a smoking 1.07, up against a flying Josh, who rode a 1.06 … fantastic riding! I am unsure of the final standings as I write this, but the Southland boys all finished strongly.
The final event of the night for us was the Women’s Keirin Final. It was nerve-wracking watching the race unfold, but Steph got herself out of a tricky position masterfully and turned on a fantastic display of speed to take the bronze medal behind Olympic Medallist McCulloch. Truly exciting stuff! Cathy and I settled for high fives (again, too sore for back flips) and decided it was about time we came up with a Southland National Anthem.
It was a relatively early finish, which will make up for the enormous programme that it set out for tomorrow. We have Lee and Karl in action in the Elite Men’s Sprint and Brad getting underway with Day 1 of the Elite Men’s Omnium.
More exciting news to come in tomorrow I am sure!
Caption: Natasha Hansen in action during the keirin competition at the Oceania Championships
Photo courtesy: email@example.com