20/06/2011 - As Cycling Southland sits in the middle of our Winter break between racing seasons it was good to deliver the Southland Secondary Schools Road Championships yesterday at Teretonga. After the record numbers which turned up at our Mountain-bike cousin’s Mid-Winter Enduro on Saturday, Sandy Point was the place to be this weekend.
Even though the weather gods weren’t kind it was good to see the best talent from Dunedin south on the bike and giving it heaps. There were a few tired legs backing up from Enduro, but after it all Southland Girls High School prized the Schools Trophy away from James Hargest College who have had a mortgage on it in recent years. It was a great team effort by Dave Beadle’s charges, especially given they can only enter half the races.
Even though the locals dominated, Otago’s Lachie McGregor and Dunstan’s Tom Vessey both starred and showed they will be strong contenders when the South Island championships are held at Ruapuna in a couple of weeks time.
It wasn’t only the bike riders who covered some miles this week. Cycling Southland President Steve Canny and I travelled to Wellington mid-week to visit the team from SPARC ahead of our hosting of the 2012 World Junior Track Cycling Championships. It brought home the magnitude of what hosting a World Championship means. It is an incredible opportunity for the sport, the ILT Velodrome and our region and we are committed to ensuring we make the most of this opportunity. Next month we will again be promoting Southland on the world stage at the 2011 Champs in Moscow, ensuring that the best in the world will descend on our fine province next year.
Track cycling is one of our highest profile Olympic medal chances next year. The ILT Velodrome will play a key part in New Zealand’s build-up with the Oceania and New Zealand Championships to be held in Invercargill over the next nine months. From there a full squad wearing the black skin-suit will battle for gold around London’s new £93M velodrome and then, just a few short weeks after what we hope will be a significant medal haul, little old Invercargill hosts the Junior Worlds. It makes our rare opportunity even more mouth-watering.
New Zealand is fast-becoming a world championship venue of note. Following this year’s Rugby World Cup, comes our Junior Worlds, the World Triathlon Champs later next year and the World BMX Championships indoors in Vector Arena in 2013. SPARC’s expertise in event planning combined with the experience Cycling Southland has built up over recent years in event delivery give us a huge amount of confidence that the 2012 Junior Worlds will be one of the best ever.
Our trip to Wellington also provided a great chance to do some unplanned inter-sport networking. After the ash-cloud turned our plane around to Christchurch, Steve and I shared a rental car home with Southland Cricket’s Kevin Cooper and his wife, proving every cloud has a silver lining - even ash clouds.
Nick Jeffrey is Cycling Southland's Chief Executive