Hawke's Bay cyclist Regan Gough booked his trip to the Rio Olympics on Friday.
That was the belief of his father, Waipukurau-based Infracon Roading Company manager Dean Gough, after he watched his son's magnificent contribution to the New Zealand men's 4000m team pursuit's gold medal-winning effort on day two of the UCI Track World Championships in Paris live on television. The Kiwis half-a-second victory over Great Britain was Cycling New Zealand's first gold in this event after bronzes were their previous best in 2009, '10, '12 and last year. "I know I'm the proudest dad ... not only in Hawke's Bay but the entire country," Dean Gough said yesterday. "When you consider Regan wasn't expecting to be in the team and only got told of his promotion 12 hours before the final it was pretty exciting," the 18-year-old's father recalled.
Gough, the Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools Sportsperson of the Year in 2013 and last year, got the call from the Kiwis endurance coach Tim Carswell when double Olympian Marc Ryan complained about a niggling back injury after the semifinal win against Switzerland. Gough's selection meant the average age of the Kiwi team in the final was 20.
The New Zealanders went up early before the British fought back to take a slender advantage before dropping a rider. With the Kiwis dropped to three riders also and when Frame slipped off the back, it looked if the British would prevail. But their third counting rider also dropped back as the young Cantabrian pushed hard for the line, finishing only a length behind his teammates.
They won in an astonishing 3:54.088, starting with a 1:03 for the first kilometre and following with splits of 56s, 57 and 57 to smash the national record by more than a second and finish half a second ahead of the Brits.
"For such a young team, they outdid themselves over the last two days. It's unbelievable how well they raced," Carswell said.
"Regan has trained well and it was great to bring in fresh legs. It was a massive step up for him. His previous best in a team pursuit was 4m06s, so to go 3:54 was incredible and he was superb in the ride. They are really young so we know they are going to get stronger over the next 18 months to Rio and we are lucky with the overall strength of the programme at the moment which is pretty exciting," Carswell added.
Dean Gough rated yesterday's gold medal as "right up there" with his son's career highlights which also included two golds, a silver and a bronze from last year's junior world championships in Korea. "You can't really split them. I spoke to Regan and he was extremely excited ... rapt that the Kiwis pulled it off with such a young team. They have huge potential."
He pointed out the family was to celebrate the occasion with a meal out last night and then work it off with a training ride with their Central Hawke's Bay Cycling Club clubmates today. The Gough family was eagerly awaiting the points race in Paris today, Regan's favourite event.
A finalist in the Hawke's Bay Today Person of the Year Award last year, Regan won the junior award at last year's Hawke's Bay's Sportsperson of the Year awards function. It will be a surprise if he doesn't retain it at this year's awards function in May.
Regan is tipped to join likely senior award winner, the world's female rower of the year Emma Twigg, as the favourites for the supreme award.
Earlier yesterday Southland's Eddie Dawkins won silver in the final of the keirin behind five-time world champion Francois Pervis of France.