Date: Sunday, 06 March 2022

The third and final day of competition at the Masters Track National Championships saw yet more national records fall at the SIT ZeroFees Velodrome at ILT Stadium Southland.

Southland’s Ruth Whelan set a new national record in the masters women 3 flying 200m, with a time of 12.503, with records also being broken by Fiona Bennetts (masters women 1), Timothy Chai (masters men 1), Russell Scott (masters men 7), Graeme Litt (masters men 8), and Roger Bates (masters men 9).

The flying 200 serves as the qualifying event for the match sprints, and qualifying fastest set Whelan up for an easier run to the gold medal final. In the semi finals, Whelan dispatched Jacqui Whiting (Canterbury) in two straight rides to progress to the gold medal final, where she would face Whiting’s team mate Bennetts, who had qualified second fastest earlier in the day.

There was some good tactical riding by Whelan, who controlled the match perfectly, and took two clear wins over Bennetts to take the overall win in the masters women’s category 1 to 4 match sprint, and be awarded the gold medal for masters women category 2.

There was some brilliant racing from Whelan’s team mate Nicola Stevens as well, as she claimed two gold medals on the final day of competition. Stevens had to fight hard to claim gold in the masters women category 2 elimination race, where the last rider across the finish line is eliminated every second lap, but she rode tactically to keep herself out of trouble throughout.

The masters women points race was an immense battle as Stevens was the sole Southlander up against three Canterbury riders. After taking third place in the first sprint, Stevens fought hard to claim the second sprint, moving her into the joint lead in the event. On the run in to the final sprint, Bennetts (Canterbury) attacked, but Stevens did not panic, knowing that Bennetts was not a threat overall, as long as Stevens could beat Penny Thomson (Canterbury) to the line. Stevens put in an immense effort on the push for the line, crossing in second place behind Bennetts, and in doing so claiming the masters women points race, and gold masters women category 2.

Neil Familton added to his medal tally as well, taking the overall win in the masters men category 3 and 4 points race, and being awarded gold in masters men category 3. Familton delivered a master class in points racing as he claimed the first two sprints to set himself up nicely for the rest of the race. Second place in the third sprint helped extend that buffer, so when Graeme Bunn (Waikato-BoP) attacked with a couple of laps to go, Familton knew he did not have to chase him down, and only needed to secure third place across the line in the final sprint to take out the win, which he did with relative ease.

There was also a silver medal for Brendon McLeod in the points race for masters men category 1, as well as a bronze medal for Nichole Saunders in the sprints for masters women category 1, while Cameron Scott and Kerry Russell both featured in their respective points races, managing to claim points in the sprints but falling just short of stepping onto the podium. 

The results from day three means that Stevens walks away as Southland’s top medal winner with four gold medals and two silver medals, ahead of Whelan with four gold medals and a national record, Familton with three gold medals, and Sonya Barton with one gold and one bronze. Saunders claimed three silver medals and two bronze medals, while McLeod claimed two silver medals and a bronze, to make it a very successful championships for the small but highly capable Southland team.

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