Southland claims the credit for cycling success
Has Southland played an important part in NZ's cycling success?
Cycling Southland officials say the deep south should be handed its fair share of credit for New Zealand's impressive rise on the track.
That success was highlighted by a dominant display at the Commonwealth Games, where the 15-strong New Zealand track team claimed 11 medals.
Much of the spotlight has been shone on Cambridge's new indoor velodrome where Bike NZ's high performance unit is now based.
Cycling Southland officials, however, feel much of the success can be traced to a 1997 Cycling Southland strategic plan.
The plan was geared toward Southland playing a key role in New Zealand becoming a top cycling nation, something it has delivered.
Southland provided five of the 15-strong New Zealand track team in Glasgow and four of them were medallists.
An indoor velodrome built in Invercargill in 2005 - the first of its kind in New Zealand - has also been highlighted by Cycling Southland as playing a major role in New Zealand's rise.
Former Cycling Southland president Steve Canny felt now was a great time to reflect on what Southland had done for the sport.
"[The SIT Velodrome] has been instrumental in catapulting New Zealand cycling into international cycling success, and this will continue into the future," Canny said.
"The south has been paramount in attracting top quality competition, both Commonwealth and world champions."
One of New Zealand's gold medallists, Tom Scully, agreed with with the notion that Southland has played a major hand in New Zealand winning gold on the world stage.
"The Invercargill velodrome and the Southland community have been vital for not only my development, but the whole current era of track cycling in New Zealand. I believe New Zealand track cycling would not be where it is today without the world-class Invercargill Velodrome and strong community support," he said.
The question now is what role can Southland play, in particular Invercargill's velodrome, in the continued success of New Zealand cycling .
Cycling Southland's president Lindsay Jordan thinks it can still play a massive part and hinted an academy type set-up to continue to develop top-line track stars.
‘It's only the high performance part that is based there, there is still a big area below that to develop riders coming through and a large number of those are still going to be coming through from down here. At the moment we've certainly got increased school numbers and a good facility and we are looking to have more structured academy type programme."
The plan was for Cambridge and Invercargill to alternate the staging of national championships.
- The Southland Times