Cycling Southland's Eddie Dawkins led the charge as the Track Cycling programme commenced this morning at the London Olympics.
The national sprint champion teamed with Simon van Velthooven and Ethan Mitchell for a fifth place finish after recording a new personal best time in the First Round quarterfinal.
The threesome qualified seventh fastest with a somewhat disappointing 44.175 but bounced back strongly to record the fastest ever time by a NZ Men's Sprint combination of 43.495. Unfortunately that was not enough to beat the French to qualify for the medal rounds.
Great Britain broke the Olympic record in qualifying before lowering the world record twice in succession on their way to the gold medal. Philip Hindes, Sir Chris Hoy (who joined rower Steve Redgrave as the Briton with the most Games golds with five) and Jason Kenny beat France into the silver medal position, while Germany took bronze ahead of Australia.
Meanwhile the Kiwi Men Team Pursuiters qualified for the First Round with a 3:57.607 and will face Australia tomorrow morning for a place in the gold medal ride. Great Britain again provided the highlight with a world record ride of 3:52.499, over three seconds clear of the Aussies. They will ride off against Denmark who surprisingly qualified fourth, ahead of the Russians.
The two winners of GB v Denmark and NZ v Australia will qualify for the gold medal ride, while the two fastest times from the remaining six first round qualifiers will battle for bronze.
So, in short, if the Kiwis can get up over Australia they will ride the Brits (presumably) for gold, but they must also post a solid time to ensure qualification for the bronze medal ride. Confused? Same.
In the only other event on the opening day's programme, China were relegated for a late change in the gold medal ride to be denied gold, with world champions Germany stepping up to the top step of the podium. Australia took bronze over the Ukraine, after second qualifiers Great Britain were relegated in their First Round ride-off for an early change.
The programme continues tomorrow with the culmination of the Men's Team Pursuit, Women's Keirin and Women's Team Pursuit qualifying round.
Cycling Southland's Natasha Hansen will make her Olympic debut at 3am NZ time, lining up in the second heat of the Keirin alongside Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain), Kaarle McCulloch (Australia), Fatehah Mustapa (Malaysia), Willy Kanis (Netherlands) and Lyubov Shulika (Ukraine).