New Zealand has finished top of the Oceania Track Championships on home soil in Cambridge after the final day of racing. New Zealand claimed 24 of the 40 gold medals on offer. Last day gold went to Jordan Castle in the keirin, and Campbell Stewart and Tom Sexton for the omnium.
There was also gold medal success in the Under 19 madison events for George Jackson and Corbin Strong and McKenzie Milne and Emily Paterson (New Zealand). For Australia, Stephanie Morton enjoyed a third and final gold by winning the sprint, followed by madison success for Kristina Clonan and Macey Stewart.
For newly appointed high-performance director Martin Barras, the championships meet his expectations and reinforced his belief in the structure that has put in place in recent years.
"From a competition perspective we all recognise that this has been a very good tournament with a high level of performance," said Barras, who previously worked with the Australian road programme and Orica-Scott women's squad. "From a programme perspective it reinforces my opinion and that of the rest of the world, that the class of this organisation is top notch. I don't think the Kiwis understand just how good this programme and the organisation is.
"It is going to be my job to pull this programme together and get everyone to realise this. All my former friends from Australia are saying the same thing, so I am excited about the challenge ahead."
For Castle, who raced the recent Track World Cups in Poland and Manchester, the keirin win was a complete surprise and gives him confidence for future events.
"I learned so much from racing at that level. I was stoked to bring some of those leanings back and put them into play here because it is not a learning unless you act on it," said Castle. "So what does this mean now? That there's a whole lot more hard work on the way."
While New Zealand finishes top of the medal tally, Australia was well represented in the final day podum celebrations. Despite a limited run into the Oceanias, Morton expressed her delight with her golds.
"I think this is the first time I have done a triple at Oceanias so I am really happy with that," said Morton, having also tasted gold in the 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."
For the madison duo of Clonan and Stewart, the win also capped off a successful meet and a confidence boost leading into the summer.
"This is pretty big. It means a lot of be Oceania Champion," said Clonan. "I was partnered with Macey Stewart and I think we worked together well and we are heading in to the Six Day in Australia in a couple of weeks. It is four medals for me so it is a nice start to the season and a warm up as we move in to bigger races ahead."
For Australia, the next opportunity to take on New Zealand in an international meet will come in April with the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. The Anna Meares velodrome will also double as the location for the Australian national championships in early-February and one final test before the quadrennial event. A first on Australian soil since the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne with the home nation winning seven track gold medals.
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