Natasha Hansen continued to stake her claim for Olympic selection on the second night of the RaboDirect Track National Championships in Invercargill tonight.
Hansen defeated fellow Southlander Steph McKenzie in two straight rides to win the women’s sprint national title after smashing the New Zealand 200m time trial record in qualifying this morning.
The men’s sprint final was a more closely fought affair with local Southland hero Eddie Dawkins regaining his best form to beat fellow BikeNZ squad member and former triple world junior champion Sam Webster (Auckland) in a third ride, after they split the first two.
Hansen was delighted with her continued improving form.
“I was really pleased with my national record, but I guess in sprint racing anything can happen and you can’t underestimate anyone no matter what their qualifying speed was,” Hansen said.
“The record did give me a slight confidence boost but I think the main buzz I was on was just from going fast. You can’t take anyone lightly out there,” said Hansen.
Hansen, who has her sights set on the London Olympics, set a new national record of 11.219 in the 200 metre sprint qualifying this morning, adding it to the 500 metre time trial national record she last night.
“New Zealand has not had a female sprint programme so now that we have got one with three of us on the programme we have come along in leaps and bounds as we are all pushing each other along and making us go faster and faster.”
Katie Schofield (Otago), the third member of the women’s high performance sprint programme narrowly missed making the sprint final but easily defeated former world downhill mountain bike world champion Vanessa Quin (Auckland) to take the bronze medal.
Dawkins led the way in qualifying with a 10:169s effort, a whisker outside the national record, with fellow Southlander Matt Archibald second fastest ahead of Webster.
Dawkins, Archibald, Webster and fellow BikeNZ squad rider Ethan Mitchell fought their way into the semifinals.
The big Southlander accounted for Mitchell (Auckland) in two straight rides to progress to the final while Webster was pushed by Archibald but also went through in two rides.
It proved an outstanding result for Dawkins, who struggled for his best form at the Oceania Championships prior to Christmas.
“Sam is really the leading force in matched sprinting in New Zealand and it was good to get one up on him, but it’s also developing our whole team,” said Dawkins.
“My sprint qualifying today was the fastest I have gone since 2009. I’ve been in a bit of a lull – I’ve been surprised that the team has kept me around. But I’m glad I’m on the way up again and in the right year.”
Southland local Tom Scully caused an upset in the points race when he beat Beijing Olympians Westley Gough (Waipukurau) and Marc Ryan (Timaru) for the title. It was a tight race decided on the final sprint which was won by Gough. However Ryan was relegated for an infraction in the final sprint which promoted Scully, giving him the extra point needed to steal the title from Gough.
It completed an remarkable comeback from Scully, who had several months out of the sport after a serious racing accident in Ireland in 2010.
Commonwealth Games medallist Joanne Kiesanowski (Canterbury) rode an exemplary points race to secure herself the national title. The country’s leading omnium rider featured in each sprint, winning by an 11 point margin ahead of Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato Bay of Plenty) and Sequoia Cooper (Southland).
Youngsters Alysha Keith (Otago) and Dylan Kennett (Canterbury) put their hands up for selection to next year’s Junior World Championships to be staged at Invercargill after convincing wins in the under 19 omnium.
Kennett won all but the points race in the six event series, to finish with a whopping 12 point margin over Hayden McCormick (Te Awamutu) with Hamish Schreurs (Christchurch) third.
Keith never slipped below a second place in any of her six events, finishing nine points ahead of Cassie Cameron (Wanganui) and Auckland’s Racquel Sheath.
The RaboDirect Elite Track National Championships conclude tomorrow.
Elite Men Sprint, Qualifying: Eddie Dawkins (Southland) 10.169, 1; Matt Archibald (Southland) 10.325, 2; Sam Webster (Auckland) 10.339, 3.
Quarterfinals: Dawkins bt James Vercoe (Auckland); Archibald bt Regan Sheath (Southland); Webster bt Karl Watson (Southland); Mitchell bt Lee Evans (WCNI).
Semi finals: Dawkins bt Mitchell 2-0; Webster bt Archibald 2-0.
Final: Dawkins bt Webster 2-1.
Elite Women Sprint, Qualifying: Natasha Hansen (Southland) 11.219 (NZ Record), 1; Katie Scholfield (Otago), 11.585, 2; Stephanie McKenzie (Southland) 11.719, 3.
Quarterfinals: Hansen bt Katri Laike (Otago); Schofield bt Olivia Wieblitz (Canterbury); McKenzie bt Hannah Latta (Wellington); Quin bt Henrietta Mitchell (Auckland).
Semi finals: Hansen bt Quin 2-0; McKenzie bt Schofield 2-0.
Women’s sprint final: Hansen bt McKenzie 2-0. Bronze medal ride: Schofield bt Quin 2-0.
Under 19 Men Omnium:
200m Flying Lap: Dylan Kennett (Canterbury) 13.381, 1; Tom Beadle (Southland) 13.582, 2; Daniel Ellison (Tasman) 13.855, 3
Points Race: Hayden McCormick (WBOP) 17 pts, 1; Hamish Schreurs (Canterbury) 8 pts, 2; Kennett, 8pts, 3.
Individual Pursuit: Kennett 3.22.945, 1; McCormick, 3.24.208, 2; Hardy Michel (Auckland) 3.29.323, 3.
Scratch race: Kennett, 1; McCormick, 2; Schreurs, 3.
1000m Time Trial: Kennett, 1.04.192, 1; McCormick, 1.06.045, 2; Schreurs, 1.06.193, 3.
Overall standings: Kennett, 8 pts, 1; McCormick, 20 pts, 2; Schreurs, 29 pts, 3.
Under 19 Women Omnium:
200m Flying Lap: Alysha Keith (Otago) 14.938, 1; Racquel Sheath (Auckland) 15.135, 2; Georgina Wilson (Auckland) 15.537, 3
Points Race: Keith, 12 pts, 1; Cassie Cameron (WCNI) 10 pts, 2; Wilson, 10 pts, 3.
Elimination Race: Cameron, 1; Keith, 2; Sheath, 3.
Individual Pursuit: Sheath, 2.30.637, 1; Keith, 2.31.062, 2; Cameron, 2.32.024, 3.
Scratch race: Keith, 1; Cameron, 2; Wilson, 3.
500m Time Trial: Keith, 36.450, 1; Sheath, 37.780, 2; Cameron, 38.072, 3.
Overall standings: Keith, 8 pts, 1; Cameron, 15 pts, 2; Sheath, 16 pts, 3.
Men’s Points Race: Tom Scully (Southland), 26 pts, 1; Westley Gough (WCNI), 25 pts, 2; Marc Ryan (Mid South Canterbury) 19 pts, 3.
Women’s Points Race: Joanne Kiesanowski (Canterbury), 27 pts, 1; Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato Bay of Plenty), 16 pts, 2; Sequoia Cooper (Southland), 13 pts, 3.