Victory for Kiwi speed skater
Palmerston North's Peter Michael is again on top of the world after a brilliant victory in the 15,000- metre elimination at the World Speed Skating Championships in Italy.
Michael found himself alone at the start line as the other New Zealand skater, Antony Nalder, missed out on qualifying for the final.
In a tough race, Michael led with about 1000m to go, with last year's runner-up, Bart Swings of Belgium, right behind him and Italian favourite Fabio Francolini and two others in the mix.
Francolini hit the front with about 400m to go, opening up 10m on Swings, with another 10m to Michael.
However, the Kiwi unleashed a blinding last lap to pass Swings with 100m to go, then cut back down the banking and exited the curve to nail Francolini about 20m from the line.
New Zealand coach Bill Begg said it was an incredible finish.
"Peter's timing was just perfect, it was a fantastic finish."
Michael, who is based in Columbia in the United States, has a close association with Timaru, winning the 2011 Tour of Timaru and dominating the 2012 Oceania Championships on the Caroline Bay track.
His sister Samantha skates for the South Canterbury Speed Skating Club, and is competing at the championships in Italy, along with Waimate's Emily van der Heyden.
Van der Heyden, who is at her first world championships, found the going tough against girls three years older in the junior class.
In the 300m time trial she did not get off the line and a slow first 100m had her finishing outside the top 20.
Samantha Michael was also outside the top 20 in the women's 15,000m elimination. Her chances were not helped by several crashes that she was caught up in. The race had to be restarted twice as a result.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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