Date: Friday, 03 February 2017

NZ Olympic cyclist Natasha Hansen is staying well grounded despite narrowly winning the national women's time trial.

The Southland rider has been focusing on her job as an air traffic control tower operator in Hamilton, since the Rio Olympics.

Hansen flew home in the final stages to take the elite women's 500m time trial at the 2017 Track National Championships in Invercargill.

The Rio Olympian was sitting second at the three quarter stage behind her Southland teammate Emma Cumming, before she overcame a narrow deficit to claim the win by 0.074 seconds.

Hansen won in a time of 35.241, ahead of Cumming on 35.315 and Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Tess Young 35.837.

"It was hard going this morning and this evening, so I am not in Olympic form, but it was good racing by Emma," Hansen said.

"I didn't know how close it was at the time, but I knew it was going to be close regardless, I just knew that tonight I had to go as fast as I could, it was good that I could come through in the end."

While some cyclists study, she has been working and training to become a fully fledged control tower operator in Hamilton after four years in Invercargill.

Because her attention had been focused on cycling at the Rio Olympics, she had been unable to become fully certified despite working in Hamilton for two years. 

"I have been an eternal trainee in Hamilton, so after Rio I had to properly get my rating, so it was actually Tuesday that I finally had my last exam, so I can operate by myself up there," she said.

"It is good to have that off my shoulders and be able to focus properly on cycling again."  

"It is nice to have something out of sport. Especially when it is so intense for a period of time like an Olympics a lot of other athletes do study so I am lucky that I have got a job."

She will compete in the sprint on Friday and keirin on Saturday, missing the Sunday programme in order to return to work on Monday.

Former BMX rider Sarah Walker finished fifth in 36.396 seconds.

New Zealand sprinter Zac Williams narrowly edged out Southland's Eddie Dawkins in the men's 1000m time trial, with Jordan Castle third.

The Auckland rider recorded a time of 1:01.817, with Dawkins second on 1:02.102. 

Rio Olympian Dylan Kennett powered home to take gold in the 4000m men's individual pursuit from his Kiwi teammate Nick Kergozou.

Southland's Kergozou held a narrow lead throughout the early and middle stages of the race, before Kennett came home with a wet sail to take the title by a comfortable margin.

The Waikato-BOP rider won the title with a time of 4:18.517, from Kergozou in 4:22.997, while Canterbury's Hugo Jones secured the bronze.

In the elite women's 3000m individual pursuit Waikato-BOP's Jaime Neilsen took the gold medal in 3:31.544, while Rushlee Buchanan took the silver in 3:34.577.

Southland's Kirstie James took third place.

Jackson Ogle won the U19 men's 100m time trial in 1:03.378, ahead of Joshua Scott and Matthew Trenchard.

Waikato - BOP's Ellesse Andrews claimed the gold medal in the U19 women's 500m time trial in 35.859s, ahead of Shaane Fulton and Emily Shearman won the bronze. 

Meanwhile, Southland's Nicole Shields won the women's U19 scratch race from West Coast North Island pair Emily Shearman and Libby Arbuckle.

In the men's U19 scratch race Canterbury's Josh Scott won a tight finish from Southland's Corbin Strong and Canterbury's Jared Pidcock.

Photo courtesy Dianne Manson, article Stuff

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