Cycling Southland's Natasha Hansen made her Olympic debut this morning in London, lining up in the Women's Keirin.
When she looked to her left on the start line she saw the two favourites for the title, arch-rivals Anna Meares of Australia and Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton. With two riders qualifying for the semifinals from each heat, it was always going to be a difficult task to beat out one of the two sprint superstars but Hansen looked right at home in the thick of the action once the derny pulled off the track.
Tarsh covered the early moves and then got on the wheel of Meares, riding great position in third wheel. But, try as she might, she couldn't hold off the power of Pendleton and Meares in the final half lap and took a very satisfactory third place to contest the repechage. Much to the delight of the crowd, Pendleton rolled over Meares to earn the win, completing the final 200 metres in a little over 11.1 seconds.
Hansen drew the inside position for her repechage and sat on the derny's wheel for the first five and a half laps before comfortably qualifing with a solid second place finish behind France's Clara Sanchez.
A fifth place in the semifinal saw her drop in to the B Final where she again took fifth across the line to take 11th overall.
Victoria Pendleton finished the night on the perfect note for the home crowd, powering to gold in the A final with China taking silver and Hong Kong bronze.
Meanwhile New Zealand qualified for the bronze medal ride in the Men's Team Pursuit after Jesse Sergent, March Ryan, Sam Bewley and Aaron Gate recorded
3:56.442 in their first round loss to Austalia. They faced Russia for the final step on the podium after the Russians bounced back from a disappointing qualifying ride the day before with a 3:57.237.
The Kiwis rode wonderfully well, finishing over the top of their opponents with a 3:55.952 to take bronze by 2.3 seconds. Great Britain rode the wall of noise from the home crowd to beat Australia in the ride for gold and again lower the world record to 3:51.659.
The Women's Team Pursuit started strongly riding ninth of the ten teams and completed 2000 metres with the fastest split but faded over the final kilometre
to finish fifth with a 3:20.421. Their only hope is to record a quick first round time with bronze the best they can now hope for. Great Britain looks a
class above the rest of the field after breaking the world record with seemingly some ease, recording a 3:15.669 qualifying ride.