Webster scores double-double while young stars emerge
Sam Webster tonight stamped himself as one of the greats of New Zealand’s Commonwealth Games history.
Webster, 26, already a gold medallist in these Games, won the men’s sprint in champion style.
Pics Guy Swarbrick
That victory means he has achieved the team and individual sprint gold double in the Gold Coast Games this year and at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Webster has now won seven Commonwealth Games medals, going back to Delhi in 2010. That means he is only one behind Gary Anderson as New Zealand’s most medalled cyclist at a Commonwealth Games. In addition, he has an Olympic silver medal and three world titles in his cycling CV.
Through the tough sprint competition tonight Webster never put a foot wrong.
He was too good for giant-killing Muhammad Sahrom in the semi-final, winning two straight races, after the Malaysian put out top qualifier and local hope Matt Glaetzer in the first round. Webster repeated that treatment in the final to beat Scot Jack Carlin with an emphatic display in two straight rides in clinical fashion.
Reflecting later, Webster said he had executed his races as perfectly as he had ever done.
“Everything has come together just how I hoped,” he said. “We tried a few things at the world champs and they didn’t work, so we went back to basics and trusted ourselves. The results have been obvious during these Games.”
Webster said he received a real lift from all the New Zealanders in the crowd, who certainly had plenty to cheer about tonight, because besides Webster, Emma Cumming and Campbell Stewart also got among the medals.
The 20-year-old Cumming picked up her second bronze of the Games, this time in the women’s 500m time trial. The event was won by Australian Kaarle McCulloch in 33.383s.
Cumming was timed at 34.230s, which was a personal best by more than a second, and showed she is another young rider to build on the fledgling women’s sprint programme under coach Anthony Peden. Ironically Cumming’s brilliant ride deprived countrywoman Natasha Hansen of a third Games medal. Hansen was fourth with a time of 34.238s with the other New Zealander in the field was Ellesse Andrews timed at 35.850s.
Campbell Stewart, just 19, grabbed a silver medal in the men’s 15km scratch race. Stewart’s medal was the result of some excellent team riding by the other New Zealanders in the race, Dylan Kennett and Nick Kergozou.
Stewart latched onto the wheel of legendary five-time world champion Australian Cameron Meyer, which helped considerably. Then he went for it in the closing two laps and ended up with the silver – not bad for a young rider in his first Commonwealth Games.
While Cycling New Zealand has its talisman in Webster, then its development pipeline was there to all to see with the emergence of the likes of Stewart, Cumming and Andrews.
The other New Zealanders in action in the velodrome tonight were the three women in the 25km points race. Rushlee Buchanan was the best of the New Zealanders, finishing fifth with 10 points. Behind her, Michaela Drummond was 10th and Racquel Sheath 17th, with Buchanan lamenting a “negative” race with most of the major nations content for sprints rather than an aggressive approach to break the race open.
New Zealand cyclists are hungry for more success on the final night with Hansen, Cumming and Podmore in the keirin; Stewart, Tom Sexton and Regan Gough in the points race; Eddie Dawkins, Zac Williams and Dylan Kennett in the kilo time trail and Drummond, Sheath and Kirstie James in the scratch race.