The depth of junior track cycling in Southland was revealed at the weekend, with several strong performances the highlight of the provincial championships held in Invercargill.
About 140 riders from around the country took part in the Southland Track Championship, with a large contingent of quality Canterbury riders among those heading south.
Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton said racing was fierce across all the age divisions, with riders vying for spots in the Southland team to compete in the national under-15, under-17 and masters championships in Cambridge, along with the Elite and under-19 nationals in Invercargill next year.
"What was really noticeable was the great performances by our young female riders. That's really encouraging and shows there's real depth in the province," he said.
Rising star Emily Paterson dominated the U17 girls division, winning five golds in the five events she competed in.
She was one second off the time she rode in the individual pursuit at the national champs, where she won silver, which puts her in a good position with four months to the next national champs.
Rhylee Akeroyd showed sound track craft and strength to control the U15 girls division, securing three wins from the four events.
Conor Shearing had a solid championship in the U17 boys division, providing solid competition to new arrival Navarh Brotherston, who has transferred to Southland from Canterbury to further his track career.
Quinn Naylor also stamped his authority on the U15 boys division, winning three of the four events.
Marshall Erwood competed strongly to win all four events in the U13 division.
Hotton said it was hard to single out any rider because there were excellent performances across all the age groups.
Several Southland riders, including Emma Cumming, Tom Sexton and Bradly Knipe are also in a New Zealand camp training for the Oceania Championship in Australia next month and couldn't attend.
"Corbin Strong had a great weekend of racing for his first year in U19 and had some excellent results, while masters world champion Erin Criglington emphasised her dominance with some powerful riding," he said.
"Cycling in Southland is in a really strong position at the moment – we've got great numbers of young riders coming through and they're really pushing each other. I expect we'll send a solid team away to Cambridge for the Age Group Track champs in March and they should go really well."
The weekend results and the introduction of Cycling New Zealand's SIT Regional Performance Hub in Invercargill showed what a great position Cycling Southland was in, Hotton said.
"With the depth we've got in rider talent plus the opportunities that are presenting themselves, it's a really exciting time for track cycling and a great reminder of the value of the indoor velodrome," he said.
"It's looking fantastic for the future."
The event also included the new UCI keirin regulation changes, which increased the sprint distance to three laps and the rules about overtaking the pacer have also been clarified.
The next big event at the SIT Velodrome is the New Year Carnival on January 20 and 21, followed by the Elite and U19 Track Championship from February 2-5.
Article and photo courtesy Stuff