16 sleeps until the start of the 2012 UCI Juniors Track World Championships.
Entry numbers continue to rise with some countries coming out of the woodwork late to line up at the start line in a little over a fortnight. Last count was north of 160 riders and 24 countries. The Netherlands, Japan and Mexico (who will field one of the largest squads with 15 riders) are the latest to confirm attendance over the past week.
The first of our squads arrived this past week with South Africa touching down for their four week long stay. They haven't wasted any time in getting down to business, spending quality time on the track and the road including mixing with the locals in our Saturday Club Road race at Mabel Bush on Saturday. They may not harbour hopes of world titles, but we'll be doing everything we can to make sure it is a trip none of them will forget anytime soon.
This week has also seen the continuation of our Secondary Schools’ Roller Racing. Central Southland College and Verdon College both showed impressive form this week and it was great to share the fun with our outstanding sponsor at SIT's Re-Orientation as well.
If the Olympics have inspired you and you are in Years 9 to 13, come along to the Velodrome at 4pm on Tuesday and have a crack for a chance to take part in our Ultimate Ride-Off on the final day of Junior Worlds. And for the slightly older wannabe, we start our Pub Challenges this week visiting the Eastern Suburbs Tavern on Wednesday and Big Willy's on Thursday. Our mates at the ILT have put up $500 in prizes for each night.
In between the inevitable last minute preparations, there has been this quite large sporting event going on in London in the background. Thankfully, sleep isn’t important because it’s been very hard to pull yourself away from the giggle box at some ungodly hour of the morning.
The last couple of nights have been particularly taxing, trying to balance the end of the rowing and swimming with the start of triathlon, track and field and, of course, the track cycling. It’s been a mixed bag for the Kiwis on the London Velodrome, headlined by the bronze medal for the Men’s Team Pursuit and the fifth place finish for Eddie Dawkins and the Men’s Team Sprint. Both Eddie and Natasha Hansen (who was back in business overnight in the Women’s Sprint) have looked right at home amongst the elite competition and that’s a great sign for the next Olympic cycle.
It’s hard not to watch in awe at what the Brits have achieved. After winning seven golds and eleven cycling medals at Beijing four years ago, they have the chance to medal in nine of the ten disciplines at home this year. But, I know of at least two Southlanders who will already be focusing on re-dressing that balance a little in Rio in four years time.
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland