Commonwealth Games Champ prevails in three-race thriller
Mental toughness after recent three-race deciders proved decisive for Commonwealth Games champion Sam Webster who claimed the men’s sprint title at the Skoda Track Cycling Nationals at the Avantidrome in Cambridge tonight.
Webster was pushed to a third race decider against world champion teammate Eddie Dawkins, prevailing after he jumped early with a lap to go and held on for the victory.
Steph McKenzie, who turns 22 next month, also showed her fighting spirit to overcome fellow Southlander Natasha Hansen in the decider to retain her women’s elite sprint title.
Steph McKenzie celebrates defence of her sprint title.
Credit: Dianne Manson.
With the world championships looming in Paris next month, selectors would also be pleased as other key hopes showed strong form.
Individual pursuit champion Jaime Nielsen claimed her first bunch race, lapping the field to set up victory in the points race ahead of fellow national squad members Racquel Sheath and Rushlee Buchanan in a Waikato BOP sweep of the podium.
Young Canterbury hopeful Alex Frame signalled his intentions with a superb burst on the final lap sprint to win the men’s scratch race ahead of Dylan Kennett, reversing their placings from yesterday’s individual pursuit final.
This morning’s attention focussed on the Para-Cyclists where Wellington’s Kate Horan set a world record in the women’s C4 Flying Lap.
Horan was remembered as a Paralympian on the athletics track who won a silver medal in Beijing in 2008 and more recently turned to Para-Cycling, winning a silver medal at last year’s world championships.
Today the below the knee amputee clocked an excellent 13.551s in the 200m flying lap, which took more than two seconds off the previous world record held by British athlete Zoe Marusiak.
“I would like to think that this indicates that I am on track for the world championships. This is definitely a real positive for me.”
Webster has won all three major events where he has been pushed to a final third race – at the UCI qualifying event in September, the Commonwealth Games and tonight’s final.
“None of us is going to give away rides so you have to fight tooth-and-nail for wins. I am happy with how I am riding recently and my mental game has helped me through a lot of these times,” Webster said.
“I am developing that mental toughness and resilience repetitively and really put it out on the track. I am happy with how the mental side of things are at although I am a little disappointed with my qualifying ride this morning.”
Qualifying was owned by the Commonwealth Games medallists Eddie Dawkins and Matt Archibald who both went under the magical 10 second barrier in the men’s sprint, while London Olympian Natasha Hansen was back to her best to top heats in the women’s sprint.
Dawkins showed he is close to his best with his morning qualifying performance and pushed Webster to the limit in their three-race battle for gold, while Archibald recovered from a fall in the opening race to claim third ahead of Ethan Mitchell.
Sam Webster edges Eddie Dawkins on the way to victory in the mem’s sprint
McKenzie proved too strong in two close races over Hansen for the sprint honours, with Otago’s Katie Schofield dominating her race for third.
“The racing was so much closer out there today and it was a real race out there,” McKenzie said. “There was a bit of touch of the wheels but you have to toughen us up a bit.
“Hopefully I’ve done enough for selection but I still have to show what I can do in the keirin and team sprint, so there’s still work to do.”
The championships, that run until Sunday, double as the final trial before selection to the world championships in Paris next month.
Sprint qualifying: Natasha Hansen (Southland) 11.131, 1; Steph McKenzie (Southland) 11.205, 2; Katie Schofield (Otago) 11.459, 3; Kate Shearer (Otago) 12.045, 4; Tess Young (WBOP) 12.089, 5; Gemma Payne (Canterbury) 12.201, 6; Hannah Bayard (Auckland) 12.255, 7; Eleanor Pepperell (Wellington) 12.801, 8.
Quarterfinals: Hansen bt Pepperell, McKenzie bt Bayard, Schofield bt Payne, Young bt Shearer. Semifinals: Hansen bt Young 2-0; McKenzie bt Schofield 2-0. Final: McKenzie bt Hansen 2-0. Third-Fourth: Schofield bt Young 2-0.
Points Race 20km: Jaime Neilsen (WBOP) 35 points, 1; Raquel Sheath (WBOP) 21, 2; Rushlee Buchanan (WBOP) 21, 3.
Sprint qualifying: Eddie Dawkins (Southland) 9.876, 1; Matt Archibald (Southland) 9.921, 2; Sam Webster (Auckland) 10.046, 3; Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) 10.154, 4; Zac Williams (Auckland) 10.271, 5; Simon van Velthooven (WCNI) 10.283, 6; Ben Stewart (Southland) 10.407, 7; Jeremy Presbury (Southland) 10.448, 8.
Round 1: Dawkins bt Angus Swartz (Wgtn), Archibald bt Andrew Ward (Canterbury), Webster bt Maxwell Uivel (Wgtn), Mitchell bt Greg Potter (Auckland), Williams bt Jordan Castle (WCNI), Van Velthooven bt Fabian Wybrow (Southland), Stewart bt Sam Dakin (Auckland), Presbury bt Daniel Rafferty (Mid South Canterbury).
Quarterfinals: Dawkins bt Presbury, Archibald bt Stewart, Webster bt van Velthooven, Mitchell bt Williams. Semifinals: Dawkins bt Mitchell 2-0, Webster bt Archibald 2-0. Final: Webster bt Dawkins 2-1. Third-fourth: Archibald bt Mitchell 2-1.
Scratch race 15km: Alex Frame (Canterbury) 1, Dylan Kennett (Mid South Canterbury) 2, Cam Karwowski (Southland) 3.
2000m individual pursuit qualifying: Holly White (Auckland) 2:28.97, 1; Madeleine Park (Auckland) 2:29.31, 2; Bryony Botha (Waikato BOP) 2:30.18, 3; Michaela Drummond (WCNI) 2:33.02, 4.
Final: Park 2:28.291, 1; White 2:30.214, 2. Third-Fourth: Botha 2:30.279, 3; Drummond 2:35.556, 4.
Keirin Final: Olivia Podmore (Canterbury) 1, Jaymie King (WBOP) 2, Alice Grubb (Canterbury) 3. 7th-12th: Sarah McLeod (Canterbury) 7, Ruby Knight (Otago) 8, Michaela Kerr (Tasman) 9.
Scratch race 7.5km: Emma Cumming (Southland) 1, Michaela Drummond (WCNI) 2, Alice Grubb (Canterbury) 3.
3000m individual pursuit qualifying: Campbell Stewart (WCNI) 3:26.215, 1; Connor Brown (Auckland) 3:27.319, 2; Hugo Jones (Canterbury) 3:27.179, 3; Lachlan McGregor (Otago) 3:27.755, 4.
Final: Stewart 3:26.387, 1; Jones 3:27.739, 2; Third-fourth: Brown 3:26.897, 3; McGregor 3:27.902, 4.
Keirin semifinal 1: Bradly Knipe (Southland) 1, Lewis Eccles (WBOP) 2, Hayden Strong (Southland) 3. Semifinal 2: Hamish Beadle (Southland) 1, Liam Brown (WCNI) 2, Rhys Jones (Canterbury) 3.
Final: Knipe 1, Eccles 2, Beadle 3. 7th-12th: Sam Buckner (Canterbury) 7, Louis Higgison (Wgtn) 8, Max Jones (Canterbury) 9.
Women tandem 1000m time trial: Phillipa Gray (WBP) and Kylie Young (Southland) 1:10.661, 1; Emma Foy (Northland) and Laura Fairweather (Southland) 1:11.424, 2.
Men tandem 1000m time trial: Daniel Sharp and Sean Finning (Southland) 1:06.410, 1.
Each day includes two sessions; day and evening. Tickets are available online now through www.tracknationals.co.nz Adults from $15 and children from $8.