Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Pieter Bulling is pleading with New Zealand cycling officials not to turn their backs on Invercargill's indoor velodrome.
The 21-year-old Southlander attended his first Commonwealth Games in Glasgow recently and is having a short break in Invercargill and Queenstown before he heads back to train at Cambridge.
Bulling told The Southland Times he feared the hard work the Southland community had poured into helping cycling in New Zealand would be wasted if the Invercargill velodrome was overlooked for big events in the future.
The first indoor velodrome in New Zealand was built in Invercargill in 2005, but now there is a second one, in Cambridge, which houses BikeNZ's high-performance programme.
"There has been a lot of praise for the home of cycling in Cambridge and, yes, it has been a big help but, if it wasn't for that track down here, New Zealand cycling wouldn't be where they are today," Bulling said.
"A lot of the work has come through Southland and the community, so there needs to be a lot of thank yous going out to Cycling Southland, SIT, the Community Trust, ILT, those organisations."
Bulling said it would be wrong if Invercargill now missed out on events and Cambridge held a mortgage on top-level track cycling in New Zealand.
"Aucklanders, a lot of them don't want the nationals in Invercargill next year, they want it to be up in Cambridge again . . . It needs to be up there one year, and the next year in Invercargill," he said.
Bulling said with the doubt hovering over how much top-level track cycling would now be staged in Invercargill, he felt for people like Laurie Tall.
Tall spotted Bulling as a youngster and kickstarted his cycling career, but Tall also played a major role in pushing for the velodrome to be built in Invercargill.
"It's a bit of a shame because Laurie Tall has been a bit gutted lately. He got the track started down here, he was the one who pushed for it and now he just sees it could go to waste. It's hard for him to see that, we still need to be having track carnivals down here, we just need to get that backing for Cycling Southland."
Bulling credited having top level cycling in his own backyard in Invercargill as a youngster as a key factor in spurring him to where he is now.
"I came through because I was down at the track watching the likes of Marc Ryan, Hayden Roulston and Sam Bewley. Watching them race inspired me, and we need to be down here doing it for those younger ones now."
"Cycling Southland is only going to get bigger if we can keep it going. There's a lot of good young under-15 and under-17 riders coming through."
- The Southland Times