Bulling finds niche in omnium

New Zealand's teenage cycling talent showed plenty of promise in the Oceania Track Cycling championships finals day in Adelaide yesterday.

While Australia dominated most of the silverware, there was plenty of young flair on display to give considerable encouragement as BikeNZ begins the cycle to the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

In sprint events, the Southland pair of Jeremy Presbury and Steph Mckenzie impressed, while in the endurance events, Dylan Kennett (Waimate), Alysha Keith (Dunedin), Georgia Williams (Auckland), Hayden McCormick (Te Awamutu), Cameron Karwowski (Invercargill) and Pieter Bulling (Invercargill) all showed up.

One of the most impressive was 19-year-old Bulling who finished second in his first omnium, the gruelling event comprising six disciplines. His Southland compatriot Cameron Karwowski finished third behind three-time

world junior champion Luke Davison.

Bulling believes he has found his niche in the omnium.

"It was awesome. I really enjoyed the two days. It was a tight battle and it came down to the final two events but I didn't quite have enough to win,'' Bulling said.

"This is definitely me. I am definitely an all-round rider. I loved it.''

The Southlander also performed well with the under-23 development squad in Europe this year.

"I loved the experience in Europe this year and learned so much. It was definitely an eye-opener to me. It was my first-ever road block as well and so this year has been a really big one for me.''

He will now target the national road championships and the track nationals where he wants to put his hand up in the omnium.

McCormick rode strongly behind Kennett as the kiwis took all three placings in the scratch race, and then produced a superb display to win the scratch race, despite crashing on the final corner.

Presbury gained the silver  in the under-19 keirin behind 16-year-old Australian Jay Castles who got the jump on the field a lap out.

Presbury came from near the rear with a powerful burst to get within a whisker of  gold.

The 17-year-old from James Hargest College has only recently returned to the sport after a lengthy break from the world championships in his home town of Invercargill where he finished fourth in the keirin final.

"I am not at peak for these championships and so I am pretty pleased with that,'' Presbury said.

"It is really the start of things for me.

"My target is the Australian Youth Olympics in Sydney in January and the week after is the national championships so that will be important to hold my peak through both competitions.''

McKenzie, who has won four medals at the junior world track championships, impressed to finish fourth in the elite women's sprint. She was pipped by brilliant world junior omnium champion Taylah Jennings in a tight series that went to a deciding race.

The young Southlander showed that she will be more than a match for the current senior pair of Natasha Hansen and Katie Schofield who missed out on the semifinals.

Rising star Keith produced an outstanding final four laps solo to nab the maximum points and move into the silver medal place in the women's race with Auckland's Georgia Williams in third behind winner Ashlee Ankudinoff from Australia.

The men's keirin riders, Sam Webster, Matt Archibald and Eddie Dawkins had to settle for the minors after missing out on a place in the finals.

"It is just the start of the season for them. Virtually all of the Australians, other than their one Olympian here, had targeted this event but our guys are just beginning. So the result was actually pretty good,'' said BikeNZ sprint coach Justin Grace.

Best of the junior riders was Invercargill's Laura Heywood who won the final sprint to claim the silver in the junior women's points race.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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