Dawkins lacks 'last bit of speed', bows out
He didn't need to bang his head against a wall this time, but Eddie Dawkins was still looking for answers.
The 23-year-old threw his tattooed arms in the air in the Olympic velodrome yesterday, at a loss to explain what went wrong in the sprint when he qualified ninth fastest then lost his first round and repechage to tumble out.
“I don't know, I'm a little bit baffled by it. I came here feeling really good, got all the nerves out from the other day and went out and rode an OK time but not a time that I was hoping to see. It took me aback,” he said.
“Then I went through the rides trying to ride as hard as I could and tactically as best I could, but I just lacked that last bit of speed.”
It's been a tough first Olympics for New Zealand's top sprinter. He admitted to a costly start-line blunder before the sprint team finished fifth, and said he'd fled the velodrome to “bang my head against the wall”.
Dawkins wasn't considered a medal contender but was easily capable of making the final eight. He rode a qualifying time of 10.201sec, outside his national record of 9.963 set in qualifying seventh at the world championships in April. He then lost his first round to Trinidad and Tobago's Njisane Nicholas Phillip, then his repechage to Venezuela's Hersony Canelon.
Still, he wasn't scarred. He was looking forward to a break of just one month before resuming training. He'll cheer on his mate, Simon van Velthooven, in the keirin, and Valerie Adams in the shot put before taking a holiday in Thailand with his girlfriend, O'Leah Black.
“It's been pretty good. It's the Olympic Games and it doesn't come around very often. I've been to multiple world champs and a Commonwealth Games and nothing compares to this. It's a whole new ball game."
The sprint team, also including Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster, was the exciting prospect to emerge with a view to the next Olympics in four years.
“It's going to be bloody good in Rio, I reckon. The team will have another four years of training and racing under our belts.
"All these other guys are getting four years older and we're only just coming up so the world's our oyster,” the Southlander said.
“When we started out we were riding mid-46 so we've come down 3sec in the last two years. That's a really big jump for any team. It's tracking really nicely.
"We're a young team and we're progressing. Sir Chris Hoy is 36 years old and he's been doing it for longer than I've been alive, almost.”