Friends face off on track

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Southland cyclists and close friends Jacob Hogan and Hadley Sheehy, of Invercargill, at the Southland Track Championships at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome on Saturday. Photo: Abbey Palmer

A CLOSE-KNIT friendship quickly turned into a cycling partnership when Southland youngster Jacob Hogan joined his Verdon College classmate Hadley Sheehy (both 13) on the track.

A year since taking up the sport, Jacob competed alongside his pal in his biggest race yet Southland Track Championships.

Held at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome in Invercargill, the pair took part in a three-day competition from Friday to Sunday last week.

“My dad started cycling first and introduced me to it. I started riding on the road about a year ago and then joined a team at Cycling Southland,” Jacob said.

While he said he was “a bit nervous” at first, his coaches helped him out and his confidence grew.

“I’ve done other wee races before but not like this. I just want to have a bit of fun today.”

Having Hadley to cycle with, who had been riding for about five years, also gave him a leg up in the sport, he said.

“They [coaches] always put you with someone you know. We almost always train together.”

Hadley said he had made a lot of friendships through the sport since he first started.

“I was really proud when I could ride on the black line [the lowest height on the track] and I thought I was real good so I just kept doing it,” he joked.

He said his interest in track cycling sparked when his school visited the velodrome for a day.

Since then, he had competed in several national and international competitions over the years.

Both Hadley and Jacob said they hoped to continue with the sport and see where it took them.

Cycling Southland general manager Nicola Wills said more than 100 riders took part in the 2020 Southland Track Championships, from Under 13 to Masters and Elite riders.

“With a strong contingent from out of the region making their way south it produced some great racing for our local riders.”

She said it was a “great hit out” before the Elite Track Nationals which were being held at the Cambridge velodrome in January next year, followed by the Age Group Track National Championships, hosted by Cycling Southland from March 5-8, at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome in Invercargill.

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