Members of the Southland cycling community are reflecting on the rise of one of their stars after Eddie Dawkins claimed gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Yesterday, the all-conquering troika of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Dawkins added a Commonwealth Games gold medal to the world champions' rainbow jerseys they claimed in Cali earlier this year.
The gold medal in Glasgow came from a dominant victory in the final against England early yesterday morning (NZ time).
Cycling Southland patron Tony Ineson was one of the many Southland cycling folk who stayed up to watch the gold medal ride by Dawkins and his mates.
The victory in Glasgow was another highlight in the former James Hargest College pupil's impressive career.
"I can remember when he first started and Laurie Tall was looking after him. I used to do the handicaps and Laurie would come up and say 'don't go too hard on that boy; he's got a big future but we don't want to push him'.
"You could see the potential there then, but you never thought he would have gone as far as he has," Ineson said. "He's so strong, he's strong as an ox."
Ineson said the latest addition to Dawkins' CV again highlighted the benefits of the indoor wooden track in Invercargill in 2006 to cycling in Southland.
"We're just so lucky to get the opportunity to get that wooden track. I'm not sure we would be talking about Eddie's [Commonwealth Games] gold medal if we didn't get it."
Dawkins was delighted the team could back the world champions title with a top performance at Commonwealth Games level.
The fact the team was no longer an unknown did not bother them, he said.
"Being the world champions sort of puts a bullseye on your back, but that's the way we like it. Everyone has to chase us; we aren't trying to catch up to anyone else."
It was another important step in a journey they hope will culminate in New Zealand's first Olympic sprint gold medal in Rio in two years.
"We're world champions and the world are looking at us," BikeNZ sprint coach Anthony Peden said after New Zealand had humbled England, breaking the Games record they had set in qualifying in the process.
Article and photo courtesy The Southland Times