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Festival of speed and Oceania Championship’s update

I arrived in Invercargill on Friday to a surprisingly beautiful day, to join the Bike NZ under 19 Track team for a camp over the time of the Festival of speed and the Oceania track cycling championships. This camp is a huge learning experience on and off the bike, with a lot of racing and having to shop, budget and cook together within our teams, which for me is the girls sprint team.

The Festival of speed is a Tier one UCI event, which attracted riders from six nations. There weren’t many races for us under 19’s over this Saturday and Sunday of racing, which meant we had a lot of time to watch and learn from the elites racing. On the Sunday afternoon session of the festival we pulled on our black skin suits with the white fern across our back and rode a 7.5km scratch race. My teammates raced an aggressive race, with many attacks throughout the 20 laps. In a lunge to the line I finished fourth, behind my teammates Olivia and Nina, and Auckland’s Bryony Botha.

After a session on the track on Monday we found out that we were no longer allowed to race against the elite women in the team sprint and Keirin. Although we were not allowed to race against the amazing world class sprinters we were able to watch and learn from them, with a huge highlight for me being meeting Anna Mears after she completed her 500m Time Trial in 33.5 seconds. This time is only .5 off her own record, and when interviewed she talked about how even though she has already achieved so much in her career, she still has goals that she wants to achieve, one being breaking this record. Anna is an incredible athlete who I was very privileged to meet. Our own Simon Van Velthoven also got the crowd roaring in his 1km Time Trail, where he broke the New Zealand record. It was amazing to see ‘the rhino’ set a world class time and take home the Oceania title.

Tuesday night was the first night of the Oceania Championships. My first event was a straight final for the team sprint. In this event there are two riders, together they complete the first lap with the first rider pulling up to let the second rider complete the distance. Olivia Podmore completed a very fast first lap, setting me up well to complete the second half of the 500m distance. I stopped the clock in a time of 36.3 seconds, which was a time that the coaches and Olivia and I were very happy with. My final event for the night was the 500m Time trial. I finished second in this event, picking up the silver medal behind team sprint partner Olivia.

Wednesday morning was the women’s under 19 points race final over 60 laps, with a sprint every ten. Maxyna Cottam, our West Coast rider was present in many sprints, with her efforts giving her the silver medal behind Auckland’s Bryony Botha.

After Wednesday night off, we were up first at 10.30 on Thursday morning for our 200m sprint qualifying. The time that you set over the 200m seeds you for the next few rounds. I qualified 2nd, which meant that I had to ride off against the 7th placed rider in the quarter final, whom ended up being Maxyna. After a restart and a bit of cat and mouse I crossed the line just in front of Maxy, putting me through to the Semi Final against my roommate Nina Wollaston. This was a tight competition held on Thursday night, where I picked up two wins in this best of three competition. This put me through to the gold medal ride off against Olivia, where her strength and speed proved too strong as she beat me in our first and second rides, giving me another silver medal, which I was very excited to receive. Jordan Castle was also riding the sprints, showing his speed that we have been seeing at the Feilding track recently. Jordan made it through to the Bronze medal ride off, where he challenged New Zealand rider Quinn Karwowski, in a tight match, which Quinn ended up taking out.

Friday is the last day of racing, with Keirins for the under 19’s, which Jordan and I will be competing in. I am very excited for this Keirin, and hope to have a positive report on this last day of racing J