Dawkins ready to take on all-comers

Invercargill sprinter Eddie Dawkins is flying at the moment and can't wait to race against international competition on his home track over the next week.

Southland's SIT Zero Fees velodrome will host the Festival of Speed over Saturday and Sunday and then the Oceania championships from Tuesday to Friday.

Dawkins is likely to be one of the headline acts as the BikeNZ team ramps up its preparation for the world championships, next year's Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

In the opening round of the World Cup, Dawkins set what is believed to be the fastest sea level time by a New Zealander in qualifying second fastest in the sprint.

Unfortunately two crashes eventually saw him settling for 10th place, but that's no indication of just how fast he's going at the moment.

"I've just stepped into my own really. A new coach has come on board, everyone has lifted their game. We are trying out a few things with the gears and ways of riding the track and it's just opened this whole new thing up."

Dawkins said his recent progress had surprised him in the beginning, but a lot of it had come with the introduction of new BikeNZ sprint coach Anthony Peden.

"It's just such a stress-free environment now. There's no fuss, there's no agendas, it's just straight training and straight coaching. It's all working well."

Dawkins said the first World Cup meet had been promising, despite the results.

"Manchester, all-in-all, was good for me, apart from crashing twice. The team sprint went well for my lap. I think I did a personal best and we ended up fourth even though we weren't firing as a unit. The keirin was good, I ran out of gas in the last race, and then the sprints - everything came together on the day but I crashed in the first round which set me back. I came back through the rounds to finish 10th against Max Levy."

The next week will play an important part in BikeNZ's plans ahead of bigger dates to come.

"This is another chance to get points that count towards Olympics qualification and the Oceanias is very important because the winners of the individual events get starting spots for themselves at the world championships," Dawkins said.

"If we can go out and win all the individual events, it puts us in a very good position heading into Cali for the world champs."

The Southland Times