Dawkins anchors Kiwis to world gold medal

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014
eddie dawkins
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WINNING FORMULA: Southland’s Eddie Dawkins, right, Ethan Mitchell, left, and Sam Webster celebrate victory in the team sprint at the world track cycling championships in Cali.

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Eddie Dawkins, of Invercargill, has produced the ride of his life at the world track cycling championships in Cali, Colombia, to give New Zealand a near-perfect start to their 2014 campaign.

Dawkins anchored the Anthony Peden-coached BikeNZ team sprint squad in the gold medal final against defending world champions Germany, blazing his way home on the final lap to give New Zealand their first world title in the event, and a second medal after the team pursuit squad won bronze earlier in the session.

Team-mate Sam Webster praised Dawkins' finish after the final. "He pulled the cat out of the bag. Power to the big fella, he won the race for us."

It was rich reward for the New Zealand trio, who had previously won bronze and silver at the world championships, finishing second to Germany in Belarus last year.

BikeNZ head coach Dayle Cheatley was blown away by the performance of sprinters Dawkins, Webster and Ethan Mitchell.

"The team sprint was unbelievable," he said. "It has been a programme developed over four or five years and their work ethic and commitment was been outstanding. Tonight everything clicked."

Earlier in the session, the New Zealand team pursuit squad also surprised everyone, beating Germany in the bronze medal final after qualifying fourth-fastest.

Like the team sprinters, the new lineup of Pieter Bulling (Southland), Dylan Kennett (Waimate), Aaron Gate (Auckland) and Marc Ryan (Timaru) had to come from behind in their race before eventually taking the bronze comfortably.

Bulling said the result was a massive boost for the team.

"In qualifying we were not that happy with our final kilo and tonight we knew it would come down to being strong in the final kilo. Aaron did a lap and a half pull to set us up and I was able to do a lap and a half in my final turn. The camp is absolutely fizzing."

Cheatley said the third placing was a great result for a team still coming together as a combination.

"The team pursuit bronze ride was outstanding. That was the time we knew they could deliver. It's been a good programme for a new and young combination which is developing. Now they can see what they are capable of and importantly where they need to go.

New Zealand shares the top of the medal table with Germany, who won gold and silver yesterday.

New Zealand will be hoping for more success on day two as five Kiwi riders are in action at the Velodromo Alcides Nieto Patino.

Dawkins returns to compete in the men's keirin and the New Zealand challenge in that event will be further bolstered with the presence of Olympic bronze medallist Simon van Velthooven (Manawatu).The championships continue until Monday.

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- The Southland Times

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