Para cyclists produce results at Southland Track Championships
The Southland Track Championships continued in Invercargill with 12 Para cyclists taking to the track and showing the crowds great racing and incredible speed at the velodrome.
Day 2 saw the Para cyclists competing across various classifications in the Individual Pursuit events. This UCI sanctioned event gave all Para cyclists the opportunity to meet nomination criteria for selection to the New Zealand Team that will compete at the 2018 UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships in Rio de Janeiro in March.
Para cyclist Sarah Ellington (Auckland) won the battle with her nerves today to produce a stunning performance in her maiden track event. Sarah raced the Individual Pursuit this morning and again this afternoon, cutting an amazing 9 seconds off her personal best time. She said, “I just got used to racing on the track and felt so much more comfortable after my track debut yesterday. So today I had a little more experience and worked out I needed to just focus on the black line, ride as fast as I possibly could and don’t let the nerves get the better of me. It’s been a huge learning experience. Next up for me is New Zealand Track Nationals in February and hopefully UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships in March.“
Paralympian Nikita Howarth is well known for her Rio 2016 gold medal in Para swimming however today she certainly did not perform like a fish out of water in her first Para cycling event. She said, “It was really different to what I had expected but it was amazing. It was great to be in a team environment again. This is something I have missed and was a bit part of competing in Para swimming. The highlight of the weekend was getting a personal best and reaching nomination criteria for the UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships. I thought I might be able to do it but getting a huge PB is pretty cool and I would hope to get this down a bit more prior to World Championships. I did not have too many expectations of myself going into this event. I just wanted to kill it in every race and I think I did that fairly well. I was trying to reach nomination criteria for World Championships and I did, so I am pretty happy.“
Stu MacDonald (Para Cycling Head Performance Coach) said, “I’ve been really proud of the way the team has committed to the racing here in Southland. The riders knew that nomination for World Championships was up for grabs with challenging selection criteria laid out, but I’m really pleased that 7 bikes (Amanda Cameron piloted by Hannah van Kampen, Kate Horan, Sarah Ellington, Nick Blincoe, Hannah Pascoe piloted by Nina Wollaston, Nikita Howarth, Nicole Murray) have met the times required to be considered for selection. We have treated the Southland C1 event as a major target for the track Para cyclists in 2017 but looking at the next 2.5 years towards Tokyo, it is a smaller stepping stone towards the pinnacle of the Paralympic Games. I’m excited for the next phase for these Para athletes which will include the NZ National Track Championships in February, leading us towards the World Championships in Rio in March very nicely“.