What a day for New Zealand track cycling – a Commonwealth Games gold medal and two silvers.
Following the silver medal effort by the women’s pursuit team, the two sprint teams rode sensationally.
The men – Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster – overpowered England to win New Zealand’s first gold medal of the Games. And the fledgling women’s team – Natasha Hansen and Emma Cumming - claimed silver behind Australia.
The men were outstanding and Dawkins, a strongman of New Zealand track cycling for so long now, brought the team home with emphatic conviction.
The New Zealand men’s winning time was 42.877s. England crossed the line in 43.537s. In sprint cycling terms, there was enough time for the New Zealanders to have a cup of tea while they waited for the Englishmen. In the qualifying racing, the New Zealand men set a Games record of 42.822s.
The New Zealand men were well off the pace at the recent world championships in the Netherlands and said they received quite a bit of flak for their performance there.
“We got through that,” Webster said, “and to win here is incredibly satisfying. These are our two fastest rides outside the Rio Olympics.”
Australia won the women’s team sprint in 32.488s, well ahead of New Zealand’s 33.115s.
Nevertheless, for a new combination this season, Hansen and Cumming have proved a revelation.
They only just scraped into the world championship, the last of 12 qualifying teams. But they finished fifth there and have kicked on now to win silver on the Gold Coast.
Their qualifying time today of 33.321 was almost half a second quicker than third-placed England, and they bettered that ride in the final.
Hansen said that though they’d only started together this season, “we’ve recorded PB after PB”.
A veteran of the London and Rio Olympics, Hansen is vastly experienced and has long been New Zealand’s top sprinter. She is now clearly enjoying her partnership with Cumming.
Gold Coast 2018 Rio 2016 London 2012 Commonwealth Games Olympic Summer Games Ethan Mitchell Sam Webster Eddie Dawkins Emma Cumming Natasha Hansen