Jeremy Presbury stuns opposition
Seventeen-year-old cyclist Jeremy Presbury has made an emphatic statement as his prospects in the sport flourish.
The Southland teenager won two gold medals at the Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney at the weekend, highlighting his talent.
It started with a gold medal in the keirin on Friday, an event Presbury regards as his strongest.
After being forced to come through the repechage following a third placing in his heat, Presbury dominated the rest of proceedings, winning the repechage, his semi-final and the final in a time of 10.936 seconds.
That gold medal meant he joined triathlete Aaron Barclay as Southlanders to win gold at a Youth Olympic Festival after Barclay did it in 2010.
But Presbury wasn't done with his gold in the keirin, yesterday he added to his collection with another gold in the sprint event.
"Definitely the keirin I was hoping for [gold] because that's my strongest event, but in the sprint I wasn't expecting too much. To come away with a gold medal [in the sprint] was a bit of a surprise, but a good surprise, though."
"I guess I'm in the best form I've ever been in, that always helps, and just getting to know the track and a bit more experience that I've had, and listening to the coaches, it's a whole lot of combinations that have helped me to do well, I suppose."
The double gold has quickly become the highlight of a cycling career which started when he was nine and began racing.
He said there had been a change in mindset as he looks to get as much as he can out of his talents.
"For a while there I was just cruising, just enjoying cycling. I still enjoy it a lot but there's a difference between doing it for fun and then actually getting serious and dedicating 100 per cent to cycling.
"That's the difference from being that guy that just does races and doesn't perform to that guy that is winning medals at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival."
The outstanding performance is a timely one for Presbury as he eyes the New Zealand Track Cycling Championships from January 31 to February 3.
Presbury returns to Invercargill today and plans to get straight back into training for the nationals.
Meanwhile, Southland's success at the Youth Olympic Festival didn't end on the track, with two athletes picking up medals.
Southland's athletics representatives in Sydney came away with medals after the first day of competition was cancelled on medical advice, thanks to Sydney's record breaking heatwave.
The Saturday programme became a Sunday morning session, with the change to Invercargill steeplechaser Jordan Rackham's advantage.
Instead of a late afternoon start in the heat he ran at 9.15am in relatively cool conditions for Sydney.
Rackham and the eventual winner, Chris Thrupp, of Australia, made a late break and the pair hit the final water jump together. However, Thrupp lost no time over the barrier while Rackham had a slight stumble that cost him a metre or two and that was it.
Rackham's time for the 2000m was 6min 13.40sec, four seconds down on his bronze medal winning run at the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Championships last month, but in the conditions, an outstanding performance.
Javelin thrower Laura Overton went into the Australian Youth Festival with a personal best of 41.53m and came away with a new personal best of 45.13m and a bronze medal.
The 16-year-old's goal this season is to improve on her silver medal from last year's national championship and aim for the 45.75m with the heavier 600-gram javelin that will qualify her for the World Youth Championships in the Ukraine.
- The Southland Times