Southland masters tracking victory

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Masters cyclist Nicola Stevens won gold in the masters women 4 time trial at the Masters Track National Championships held at the SIT ZeroFees Velodrome last week. Photos: Supplied

MASTERS cyclists from throughout New Zealand descended on Invercargill for the first stand-alone Masters Track National Championships, which started at the SIT ZeroFees Velodrome at ILT Stadium Southland last Thursday.

Neil Familton came so close to bettering his own national record in the masters men 6 individual pursuit at the championships.

The national record in the masters men 4 individual pursuit was bettered three times during the two sessions. Andrew Beale (Canterbury) improved the previous mark in the morning’s qualifying rounds, only to have Tim Pawson (Auckland) reclaim his record again in the bronze medal ride in the evening session. However, Beale, who was racing for gold, was not content to claim gold and lose the record, as he went on to post a 1.5 second improvement on Pawson’s new mark, recording a time of 2:20.515.

Among the Southlanders, Neil Familton came so close to bettering his own national record in the masters men 6 individual pursuit, falling only a fraction of a second shy of doing so as he stormed to the gold medal.

Sonya Barton also claimed gold in the masters women 4 individual pursuit, with Nichole Saunders claiming silver in the masters women 1 individual pursuit.

Southlanders were also in action in the masters women team sprint, with the combination of Nicola Stevens and Ruth Whelan qualifying for the gold medal ride, and Barton and Saunders for the bronze medal ride.

In the finals, Barton and Saunders were beaten to bronze by the Waikato-Bay of Plenty team of Rachael Sardelich and Julie Graddon. In the gold medal ride, Stevens and Whelan would face an uphill battle against a Canterbury team of Jacqui Whiting and Fiona Bennetts, who had qualified fastest in the morning’s session.

Stevens, the starter for the team, improved on her time from the qualifying round, but the team was still just over half a second down on Canterbury as she pulled up to launch Whelan into the final lap. A storming ride from Whelan saw her erase the deficit, as Southland claimed the gold by less than .04 seconds.

Friday saw riders compete in the time trial, Keirin, and scratch races, with racing ending on Saturday with the match sprints, elimination races, and points races.

In Friday’s racing, one national record and several championship records tumbled.

Day two saw competition in the time trial, Keirin, and scratch races, and again featured closely contested races.

The morning’s session featured the time trials and Keirin qualifiers, with the highlight being a new national record for Antony Brown (Waikato) in the masters men 4 500m time trial, as he stormed to a time of 34.893.

It was a successful session for Southland as well, with Ruth Whelan taking gold in the masters women 3 500m time trial, setting a new championship record of 37.549 in the process, just .014 seconds shy of her own national record.

There were also gold medals for Nicola Stevens in the masters women 4 time trial, and Neil Familton in the masters men 6 time trial. Nichole Saunders claimed silver in the masters women 1 time trial, and Sonya Barton bronze in the masters women 4 time trial.

The evening session featured the Keirin finals and scratch races, and there was further success for Whelan as she took the gold in the masters women category 2 Keirin, with Stevens taking silver. Saunders also took a silver medal in the masters women category 1 Keirin.

Stevens added to her medal tally with a silver in the masters women category 2 scratch race, with Saunders taking bronze in the category 1 scratch race, while Brendon McLeod claimed silver in the masters men category 1 scratch race.

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