Natasha Hansen and Dylan Kennett seized on slim Commonwealth Games opportunities to secure medals at the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane last night.

Hansen said back injuries meant she was almost pulled from the sprint programme to rehabilitate; Kennett said after he was "let go" from the team pursuit squad, Jesse Sergent came on board to help him out.

Their efforts, alongside Eddie Dawkins' bronze in the Keirin, took New Zealand's track haul to six medals – one gold, three silver and two bronze.

"It's been a long time coming," Hansen said of her performances.


"Six weeks ago my coach said they might pull the pin on my world championships and Commonwealth Games campaign because I needed more time for my back to settle down.

"I haven't fired properly since Rio. There has been setback after setback and constant injuries, but the last two months I've had the most amazing support staff help get my body back to where it needs to be. It's rewarding that their hard work has paid off."

Testament to that were personal bests to match the silver medals.

Hansen became the third New Zealand woman after Sue Willis in 1990 and Donna Wynd in 1994 to secure a medal in the individual sprint, and the first combination alongside Emma Cumming to earn a disc in the team sprint.

The best-of-three individual sprint semifinal against Lauriane Genest was the sort which might be used on a skite reel to promote the sport.

The New Zealander had the better of the Canadian in the opening race. She engaged in a cat-and-mouse duel before looming like a black shadow over her opponent in the final lap to win by 0.052s.

Genest demonstrated her pluck in the second race, emerging from the inside lane to sneak ahead by 0.012s.

The decider was a doozy as the pair attempted to outmuscle each other into the straight. The tyres crossed the line in a flash; the wheel spokes almost in alignment.

Hansen, channeling Top Gun in her reflective black riding helmet, held on by 0.001s. New Zealand fans should be thankful Genest didn't have any extra air in her front tyre.

That infinitesimal margin guaranteed Hansen silver or gold; otherwise she risked bronze or nothing.

"The turnaround for the final race was so short," she said.

"I was wrecked - and knew she would be too - I thought I needed to leave the sprint as late as possible, and draft as long as I could.

"I was so determined to get around, and it paid off on the line."

Kennett said Sergent's messages cut through as a former Olympic pursuiting medallist.

"He was one of my heroes. When I first started cycling he was the pinnacle of New Zealand and world pursuiting.

"It gives me confidence that he's been here and done it. You really listen because you know that he knows what you're going through.

"I wouldn't have been here today without him helping me."

Kennett smashed his personal best by 6.131s in qualifying.

He set a new mark of 4m 13.414s, overtaking his coach's 4m 15.988s effort at the 2010 world championships at Copenhagen.

"We talked about different gearing and we decided to go for a much bigger gear," Kennett said.

"The next thing I was cutting out fast lap times and not feeling as tired.

"But once you chuck that big gear on, you can't do too many big sessions or you cook yourself."

Kennett held a 2.035s advantage at the halfway mark before extending it to all but the final lap.

With the finish line in his sights, the Kiwi rider switched from pedal-powered torpedo to channel his best mamil (middle-aged man in lycra) over the final 100m when he realised he was on the same straight as his Australian opponent Jordan Kerby.

He put an arm in the air and rose from his aerodynamic position in triumph.

"At the 2km mark I had gained huge ground on him and I thought 'he's had enough'.

"I knew I had the win. I didn't have to catch him, or do a fast time."

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