New Zealand dominated the penultimate day of competition at the 2018 Oceania Track Championships winning five of seven gold on offer including a sweep of the elite women’s omnium podium and a 1-2 in the elite men’s sprint.
Joshua Harrison (Australia) took gold in the omnium, his third title of the week as Racquel Sheath (New Zealand) grabbed the elite women’s crown. New Zealand’s team sprint world champion Sam Webster took gold in the sprint.
New Zealand dominated the women’s omnium competition with gold going to Sheath, silver Rushlee Buchanan and bronze Michaela Drummond, with the trio in control from the opening scratch race to the final points race.
“It means we automatically qualify a spot for a New Zealand rider at worlds which is super-exciting for New Zealand. It’s my first Oceania title in the omnium so it is super-exciting for me,” Sheath said.
Buchanan was the early leader winning the scratch race ahead of Drummond and Sheath, before a win in the tempo race by Sheath moved her to the top of the standings. The tempo saw Sheath finish a close second to Kristina Clonan (Australia) with Buchanan third and Drummond fourth.
With the top four separated by just 12 points ahead of the points race the positions on the podium were up for grabs. A lap taken mid race by Sheath, Buchanan, Maeve Plouffe (Australia) and Josie Talbot (Australia) solidified Sheath and Buchanan at the top of the standings. With Sheath winning the sixth and seventh sprints and taking second in the final to take gold ahead of her New Zealand teammate.
Consistent riding by junior world championship omnium silver medallist Drummond saw her pick up points to hold off a charge from Plouffe and Clonan to claim bronze.
“I love this format. The bunch races are suited to me. The timed events used to be my downfall in the old format, so this format gets me really excited every time I race,” Sheath added.
“The key was racing smart, being on to it and trying to preserve as much energy as I could in those earlier races in the day.”
It was an opposite story in the men’s with Australia filling the top three positions. Following commanding victories in the points and scratch races Harrison again proved to be the fastest in the bunch to take out the omnium on 145 points. 2009 world champion Leigh Howard (Australia) continued his track return with silver on 140, with Benjamin Harvey (Australia) completing the podium on 133.
“It means the world. I have just been ticking along and training as hard as I can and get another gold it means a lot!,” said Harrison moments after stepping off the track.
“It was pretty tough out there. It was really fast and going off the rest of the week I knew how people would race so I just have to pick the right moments and that’s what I did.
“I have the Madison tomorrow with Cooper Sayers so rest and recover tonight before coming out for that.”
The crowd was treated to a sprint masterpiece between New Zealand’s team sprint world champions Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell with Webster, defending his title from a year ago in two thrilling rides.
In qualifying seven riders went under the 10 second mark including Mitchell and Webster with the fourth and sixth fastest times of 9.776secs and 9.852secs respectively. The fastest time to Australian Matthew Glaetzer of 9.681, the quickest anyone has been on New Zealand soil, who would go on to claim bronze..
Webster’s path to gold came through Luke Zaccaria (Australia), Edward Dawkins (New Zealand) and Jacob Schmid (Australia).
Corbin Strong (New Zealand) overhauled half a second deficit in the final kilometre to claim gold in the individual pursuit with a time of 3mins 19.766, narrowly edging Finn Fisher-Black (New Zealand 3:20.185). Matthew Rice (Australia-3:26.239) completed the podium.
The women’s title went to Jenna Merrick (New Zealand-130) ahead of Lauren Robards (Australia) on 123 points and Ally Wollaston (New Zealand-116).
In the men’s sprint Leigh Hoffman gave Australia a reason to smile as he collected gold in a highly competitive final over Thomas Cornish (Australia). Bronze went to Thomas Garbett (New Zealand)
Shaane Fulton (New Zealand) took out the women’s sprint ahead of Nicole Marshall (New Zealand) in two rides and Rihana Pezaj (Australia).
The 2018 Oceania Track Championships conclude on Thursday where nine titles will be decided including the Madison, men’s keirin and women’s sprint.