Dawkins takes bragging rights at track champs

BEN STRANG
Last updated 21:34 16/03/2014

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Eddie Dawkins has bragging rights over his World Champion team sprint team mates Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster.

Dawkins brought Southland home in the team sprint final at the Elite and Under-19 Track Cycling Championships in Cambridge, beating Auckland by seven tenths of a second.

Southland hadn't beaten Auckland in Dawkins time with the team, despite having had home town advantage at the velodrome in Invercargill in the past.

The move to the Avantidrome in Cambridge may have moved closer to Auckland's home, but Southland got the monkey off the back and beat their long-time rivals.

"I've got a whole year to wind them up about it, but I'm sure they'll come out fighting next year,'' Dawkins said.

"We had a good team, and Jeremy [Presbury] was actually the standout. He took another tenth off his time which gave us a good buffer for the final two laps."

Presbury got his team off to a strong start, quicker off the blocks than Auckland counterpart Zac Williams.

When Matt Archibald took over for Southland after the first lap, he helped to extend the lead to four tenths of a second, as Mitchell tried to close the gap for Auckland.

Then World Champion closer Dawkins took over, ramming home the advantage over the final 250m, helping his Southland team to finish in 44.700 seconds.

Webster was no slouch over the final 250m himself, bringing his team home in 45.421 seconds.

Dawkins was thrilled with the victory, and laughed it off when Mitchell's silver medal was almost draped around his neck, motioning to the riders "over that way".

"First time we've beat them since I've been riding elites," Dawkins said.

"It was good to win. I hadn't actually won a gold this week, and it's good to get one under the belt and do it with the Southlanders."

It was the first time the World Champion team sprinters got to wear their rainbow skin suits after winning the title in Colombia last month.

In the women's team sprint final, Stephanie McKenzie wrapped up her nationals with a fourth gold in four days, with Southland team mate Natasha Hansen.

Up against Waikato-Bay of Plenty duo Racquel Sheath and Jaime Nielsen in the final, McKenzie suffered a mechanical issue in the first lap, as Waikato went on to set a time of 36.697 seconds.

Southland got a second crack at it minutes later, knowing they had to beat WaiBOP's time in order to win the gold.

It was almost secure after the first lap alone, as McKenzie's impressive start had Southland well up after 250m, and Hansen extended the winning margin in the final 250m to finish in 34.081 seconds.

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The result never should have finished any other way, with Sheath and Nielsen endurance riders, up against sprinters in McKenzie and Hansen.

McKenzie had by far her best track champs, having only won one title previously, last year in Invercargill.

"I was expecting golds, but four golds is amazing. It's been a long time coming to go faster, so this [nationals] is on top of my list."

In the team pursuit finals, Mid South Canterbury took out the men's title over Southland with a stunning line-up of Shane Archbold, Dylan Kennett, Andrew Van der Heyden and Marc Ryan.

Waikato-Bay of Plenty won the women's event, also against Southland, with an equally impressive team of Rushlee Buchanan, Jaime Nielsen, Racquel Sheath and Phillipa Sutton.

In the Under-19s, Canterbury 16-year-old Olivia Podmore capped a stunning national champs with her fifth gold medal in five events, winning the team sprint with Holly Edmondston.

Mid South Canterbury duo Shane Archbold and Dylan Kennett won gold in the Madison, fending off a Composite team made up of Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Patrick Bevin and Hawkes Bay's Regan Gough. 

Southland duo Liam Aitcheson and Cameron Karwowski came in third.

- Fairfax Media

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