Kiwi speedskater claims his fourth world title

03:22, Nov 11 2014
Peter Michael
FOUR IN A ROW: New Zealand speedskater Peter Michael wins gold at the world championships in Italy in 2012.

Kapiti speedskater Peter Michael is on top of the world again.

Michael won the 15,000m elimination race in Rosario, Argentina.

It was the 25-year-old's fourth consecutive world championship title, which lifts him into an exclusive group of elite New Zealand's sportspeople who have managed that feat.

Michael was nicely positioned near the front throughout the 75 laps and ran the perfect race.

With three laps left after the last elimination and five skaters on the track, the race was anyone's.

Two Frenchmen, Alexis Contin and Ewen Fernandez, controlled the front and, with with 300m to go, Contin let loose, with Michael passing Fernandez in hot pursuit.

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With 40m to go, Michael shot out of the last bend with a withering burst to cut Contin down in the dying metres to grab the win.

Michael said it was a tough, physical race.

"It was definitely hard, with the heat and the strong teams.

"Korea were back in force with their powerful skaters."

Michael said he was still coming to grips with the fact he had achieved four in a row.

"It is an unbelievable sensation. There are too many people to thank, my friends and family, the list can go on and on, but they know who they are."

Remarkably, Michael has won the last three world titles without team-mate support throughout the important stages of the race.

Kiwi Antony Nalder also started race but got caught at the bottom of the track, and was eliminated in 30th position of the 40 starters.

New Zealand coach Bill Begg was delighted for Michael. "He ran the perfect race. He stayed out of trouble and had the speed to bring it home.

"That result rates him with New Zealand's best-ever sportspeople, as he has also held the world record twice and won that event at the World Games in Columbia in 2013."

Begg, however, was disappointed that his prodigy could be lost to ice speedskating.

"Michael is a victim of the Sport New Zealand funding model.

"Despite being a four-times world champion, he receives no money whatsoever."

Begg said Michael had showed real ability on the ice long track and, with money available to Winter Olympic sports through Sport New Zealand, he could seek a change. "He might medal as, after limited experience, he recorded the fastest 5000m ever done by an inline skater who converted to ice."

Begg believed he would stay with inline skating if offered the same financial support as the Olympic sports.

The junior Kiwis, however, had a tough day.

Kapiti's Josh Whyte Kapiti was expected to make the top 12 for the 300m time-trial final, but finished 14th.

Timaru 16-year-old Guy McDonald also had a hard time in the under-20 category, finishing 28th out of 30.

In the junior women, Kiwi sprint specialist Dahna Gibbs was 26th out of 32.

Timaru's Analiese Le Roy used New Zealand's second spot for international racing experience finished 31st out of 32.

In the 10,000m points elimination, Christchurch's Ollie Jones did not get into top gear and collected only one point before being eliminated in 13th position.

The race got under way at a rapid speed and McDonald was caught at the back and found himself eliminated first.

Begg said McDonald and Le Roy are the youngest in the New Zealand and were in Argentina gain valuable experience, as they still had three years in the age group.

The Timaru Herald