New Zealand and Australia share Madison titles as Morton bags third gold at Oceania Track Championships
New Zealand claimed six of nine gold on the final day of the 2018 Oceania Track Championships in Cambridge, New Zealand to finish on top of the medal standings with 24 of a possible 40 gold.
Jordan Castle (New Zealand) surprised to snatch the keirin, Stephanie Morton (Australia) took her third gold of the week in the sprint, Campbell Stewart and Tom Sexton (New Zealand) won the men’s Madison as the women’s title went to Kristina Clonan and Macey Stewart (Australia).
Five under 19 titles were also decided as George Jackson and Corbin Strong (New Zealand) and McKenzie and Emily Paterson (New Zealand) won the under 19 Madison races. Thomas Cornish (Australia) won the keirin, Jackson the points race and Milne the scratch race.
A strong challenge from New Zealand was not enough to wrestle the women’s Madison title from Australian hands with Clonan and Stewart producing a dominant display to take the title on 34 points.
With the Australian pair scoring points in all eight sprints, winning five there was to be no beating them. The battle for the final two spots on the podium was a close affair with Maeve Plouffe and Breanna Hargrave (Australia-23) taking silver ahead of Rushlee Buchanan and Racquel Sheath (New Zealand-21).
“This is pretty big. It means a lot of be Oceania Champion. It is four medals for me, so it is a nice start to the season, ” a delighted Clonan said.
A vocal home crowd roared as local heroes Stewart and Sexton delivered the men’s Madison to New Zealand with a tactical display of brilliance. The pair also showed off their speed in the sprints winning eight of 16 and scoring in all but three.
The battle for points was on in the early sprints before three teams stole a lap mid racing changing the dynamic, giving Stewart and Sexton, Kelland O’Brien and Rohan Wight (Australia) and Joshua Harrison and Cooper Sayers (Australia) a clear lead on the rest of the field.
With the leading three teams matching each other it was the New Zealand pair who had enough left in the legs to bring home the victory on 74 points. O’Brien and Wight took silver on 64 with Harrison and Sayers bronze on 55.
The boards were set alight by Morton in qualifying as she delivered a warning to her rivals setting the fastest time ever recorded in New Zealand of 10.654 seconds, to top qualifying by more than two hundredths of a second.
The Australian was too quick for rising stars Tess Young and Olivia Podmore in the quarter and semifinals respectively.
It was an all Australian show down in the final with Morton facing teammate Kaarle McCulloch who qualified second in 10.908secs and dispatched Caitlin Ward (Australia) and Natasha Hansen (New Zealand) on route to the final.
Morton was too quick in the final taking the gold in two rides as McCulloch took silver, her fourth medal of the week. In the battle for bronze between New Zealand teammates Hansen and Podmore it was Hansen who took the medal.
“I think this is the first time I have done a triple at Oceanias so I am really happy with that,” said Morton who heads back to Australia with gold in the sprint, keirin and team sprint.
“I wasn’t sure where I was going to be after the big crash in Manchester and I hadn’t touched the bike until I got to New Zealand.
“To be able to keep that momentum going from the World Cup’s and put out another good 200 and back it up in the sprint rounds I was really happy.”
After coming through the repechage Castle stormed home for an upset keirin win in front of a home crowd. The New Zealander who raced the opening two UCI Track World Cups of the season unleashed his sprint early to hold off former winner Jacob Schmid (Australia) and former world championship medallist Edward Dawkins (New Zealand).
“It’s not sunk in. It feels like I have been working towards this for a while so it’s pretty exciting,” Castle said after claimed his first Oceania title.
“I got lucky drawing six behind Sam (Webster) because he one of the fastest and strongest so fantastic to grab his wheel and managed to hang on to the finish.
“It is just so cool to be out there with everyone, racing that fast. I love it. Keirins are amazing.”
Jackson and Strong took out the men’s Madison on 37 points ahead of Zachary Marshall and Matthew Rice (Australia-19) and Finn Fisher-Black and Kiaan Watts (New Zealand (18).
Cornish claimed his third gold of the week with victory in the keirin ahead of Marshall (Australia) and Ewan Syme (New Zealand).
Jackson also grabbed gold in the men’s points race in a close battle on 15 points just ahead of Daniel Gandy (Australia-13) and Finn Fisher-Black (New Zealand-12).
It was a New Zealand 1-2-3 in the women’s scratch race with Milne taking the title ahead of Ally Wollaston and Shaane Fulton.