I have the privilege of penning this column from the centre of the track at Hisense Arena on the final day of the 2012 Track World Championships writes Chief Executive Nick Jeffrey.
A southern deputation has spent the past week in Melbourne promoting the Junior World Championships in Invercargill in August and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the delivery of a world championship event.
To say it has been a spectacular few days for New Zealand is an under-statement and there should be little surprise that Southlanders have been in the thick of it.
Eddie Dawkins got us started on Wednesday, teaming with Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster to win New Zealands first ever team sprint world championship medal and the big fella backed it up two days later, breaking the glass ceiling and becoming the first Kiwi to go under 10 seconds in the Mens Sprint qualifying.
Eddie's return to form has been emphatic and it has been greatly helped by his good mate, Cycling Southlands own Coaching Facilitator, Matt Archibald. The man they call Mule showed just what a talent he is in his World Championship debut setting what was at the time the fastest ever time over 200 metres 10.034 to place 12th out of 53 starters. Dawkins 9.963 placed him seventh. An outstanding achievement by them both and it gets even better when you consider that five of the top ten at Melbourne will not be riding in the sprint at the Olympics due to each country only being allowed a single entry.
Natasha Hansen has also looked right at home, even though the cards havent fallen as she would have hoped this week. Her Team Sprint starter Katie Schofield slipped out of the gates in qualifying to end their Olympic chances but Tarsh hit back strongly, qualifying in 13th place in the Womens Sprint, just 0.1 seconds off fourth. Her fate is now in the hands of the selectors and NZOC on whether she earns a deserved trip to London mid-year.
The feedback we have received on our hosting of the Junior World Championships has been hugely positive. We have taken the opportunity to get face-to-face with key personnel from the top 40 track cycling countries in the world, share the message of the Junior Championships, of Southland and of New Zealand. There is great awareness of our event, which we have been very active in promoting directly to the teams and strong indications from a large number of countries of attendance.
This week has again shown New Zealands continued emergence as a track cycling powerhouse and that helps immensely when promoting our championships.
I must give special thanks to UCI and the Australian World Championship Event team for their assistance over the week. We have been looking over their shoulders for a week, observing a superb event.
Our aim is to look to match their very high standards in August and with luck our Southland riders will take a leaf out of Eddie, Matt and Tarshs books out on the track.