Australia and New Zealand each claim six gold on day 1 of 2018 Oceania Track Championships

Australia and New Zealand both claimed six gold medals on the opening day of competition at the 2018 Oceania Track Championships in Cambridge, New Zealand, Monday 20th November.

The men’s team pursuit victory in the eighth fastest time in history by Kelland O’Brien, Nicholas Yallouris, Jordan Kerby and Leigh Howard gave Australia the gold along with Rohan Wight. In the women’s Michaela Drummond, Racquel Sheath, Bryony Botha and Rushlee Buchanan were too strong for Australia with Kirstie James part of the qualifying team.

New Zealand and Australia also split the team sprints with World Champions Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Edwards Dawkins (New Zealand) continuing their dominance. In the women’s Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton (Australia) picked up gold with both teams setting the fastest time ever ridden on New Zealand soil.

A year on from winning a bronze medal Joshua Harrison (Australia) dominated the points race to snare gold while James took out the women’s for her second gold of the day.

It was also a double golden day for McCulloch as she added the 500m time trial to her team sprint success.

The future stars also impressed with Australia taking out the men’s and women’s under 19 team sprints, while New Zealand claimed the women’s team pursuit crown. Corbin Strong (New Zealand) won the omnium and Shaane Fulton (New Zealand) the 500m time trial.

Team Pursuit

Australia’s reigning World Champions Kelland O’Brien and Nicholas Yallouris combined with individual pursuit world champion Jordan Kerby and three-time track world champion Leigh Howard to set one of the 10 fastest times in history of three minutes 52.421 seconds. World champion Rohan Wight was part of the team in qualifying.

“It feels amazing. To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect as I haven’t done a team pursuit since April, so it was a little bit daunting come here for the final and not having ridden the qualifying,” said O’Brien. “I’m really proud of the boys they executed a great ride and learned a lot.”

For Howard the win marked his first success on his track return. “It feels fast! I’m very excited the last time I did was a team pursuit was at the Cali World Cup in February where I just did one ride,” said Howard.

“I was actually just looking at the Cup and back in 2011 when I won this was one of the last team pursuits I rode so it’s been a long time between drinks, but it is great to be back and going a lot faster than we used to. Silver went to New Zealand’s Jared Grey, Harry Waine, Nicholas Kergozou, Hugo Jones and Campbell Stewart and bronze to Jarrod Drizners, Joshua Harrison, Braden O’Shea, Conor Leahy and Thomas Bolton.

In the women’s New Zealand’s World Championship bronze medallists Drummond, Buchanan, Sheath and James combined with Botha to catch Australia and take gold over the Australian Team of Lauren Perry, Josie Talbot, Kristina Clonan, Macey Stewart and Nicola Macdonald. Bronze went to Breanna Hargrave, Danielle McKinnirey, Chloe Moran and Maeve Plouffe took bronze.

Team Sprint

Resplendent in their rainbow jerseys Dawkins, Mitchell and Webster delivered gold to New Zealand in 43.853 seconds, the fastest time ever set in New Zealand and just three tenths outside their own personal best time.

“That’s in our top five times ever so to achieve that so early in the season is pretty exciting for us,” said Dawkins.

“We have got a busy schedule. We are on the plane on Saturday for our third World Cup in Canada and then we prepare for the world champs which are only a couple of weeks before the Commonwealth Games.”

Webster who has just returned from racing on the keirin circuit in Japan was likewise pleased with the team’s performance.

“It feels special for us to be riding together again. We’ve got a special bond and we love racing with each other – we know one another so well.”

Silver went to Australia’s Nathan Hart, Patrick Constable and Jacob Schmid in 43.342secs and second New Zealand team Zac Williams, Bradly Knipe and Jordan Castle.

McCulloch and Morton posted the fastest time ever set on New Zealand soil in qualifying with 32.650 seconds, just a tenth off the Australian Record. Before posting another flying two laps of the track to claim the title in 32.766secs.

“Steph and I were a tenth of a second off the Australian Record so as a team I think we are heading in the right direction,” McCulloch said.

Olivia Podmore and Emma Cumming (New Zealand-33.863) took bronze and Holly Takos and Caitlin Ward (Australia-34.344) bronze.

500m Time Trial

Even with having two team sprints and qualifying in her legs there was to be no denying McCulloch a second gold as she stormed to a new personal best time of 33.848.

“To back the team sprint times up with the 500, and to finally go under 34 seconds it has been a career goal, so I’m really stocked,” McCulloch added.

“When I crossed the finish line all I heard was 848 so I thought I have had a shocker here and ridden 34.848, then I saw the 33 and my heart just skipped a beat.

“I have been searching for that my whole career, so it is also heading in the right direction for the Commonwealth Games and hopefully I can go a bit faster there.”

Podmore had to settle for her second silver of the day in 35.027secs with Hargrave adding a second bronze with 35.097secs.

Points Race

Australia’s Harrison turned his 2017 bronze in to 2018 gold as he dominated the points race taking two laps on the way to the title on 61 points. The battle for the final two spots on the podium went down to the final sprint with New Zealand’s Campbell Stewart and O’Brien, tied on 37 with Stewart claiming the final sprint to grab silver on countback.

James had little time to recover from her gold medal ride in the team pursuit as she lapped the field to take a convincing win in the women’s race on 36 points, double the tally of silver medallist Clonan while Moran picked up second in the final sprint to jump in to bronze on 13.

Under 19

Fulton spearheaded a New Zealand 1-2-3 in the 500m time trial with Fulton taking gold in a convincing 35.891 seconds. Silver went to Sophie-Leigh Bloxham in 36.294secs and bronze to Nicola Marshall in 37.110secs.

New Zealand’s McKenzie Milne, Eva Parkinson, Ally Wollaston and Samantha Donnelly took the women’s team pursuit crown stopping the clock in four minutes 59.429 seconds. Corbin Strong lived up to his name proving too strong in the men’s omnium on 137 points, 24 ahead of George Jackson (New Zealand) in silver. Tom Lynch (Australia-105) completed the podium.

Australia took out both the men’s and women’s team sprint with Thomas Cornish, Leigh Hoffman and Brodie Aamodt and Skye Robson and Rihana Pezaj respectively. New Zealand claimed bronze.