Eddie Dawkins always gets a special feeling when he walks into the SIT Zero Fees Invercargill velodrome.
It's where he developed as a cyclist and gained opportunities to ride nationally and overseas. He is Southland's most successful rider and earlier this year, the athlete won a gold medal for New Zealand in the team sprint at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
"I love coming back [to the velodrome], it's where it all started for me," Dawkins said.
"This is where I started to become a high performance athlete ... the serious commitment started here."
He rode at the Junior World Championships for the first time in 2007, and competed at the Senior World Championships the following year.
Dawkins's main focus is to ride at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, with the goal being for him, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster to win gold in the team sprint.
The trio have ridden together for New Zealand for nine years but have not won the Olympic gold medal in the team sprint.
"That's the one we want."
Dawkins, 28, is spending a couple days in Invercargill visiting family and friends before returning to Cycling New Zealand's high performance training centre in Cambridge on Sunday.
He held a coaching session for junior riders at the velodrome on Thursday and will again on Friday. Dawkins brought south one of the Avanti bikes he rode at the Commonwealth Games.
"It was made for the New Zealand Olympic team ... the frame's worth $15,000 and the wheels are both $3000."
The Invercargill velodrome rated highly with overseas venues, Dawkins said.
"This is the fastest velodrome in New Zealand."
He keeps up with Southland track and road cycling news on Cycling Southland's website and gets the organisation's information emails.
From early October to late February, Dawkins will ride at the Oceania Championships in Adelaide, World Cup carnivals in France and Canada, Cambridge World Cup and World Championships in Poland.
Before retiring Dawkins would like to compete in the six-day Tour of Southland.
"If I do, I hope it's nice weather."
Article and photo courtesy STUFF