At the end of last year, Cycling New Zealand took a financial hit because of a disappointing medal return from the Rio Olympics.

Half a million dollars of cycling's chunk of change went elsewhere when the Government funding arm, High Performance Sport New Zealand, did their deliberations in the wake of the Games.

Cycling, with rowing, yachting and now athletics, New Zealand's Tier 1-rated sports, produced a silver medal from the world champion men's team sprinters and four fourths. Nowhere near expectations and the sport suffered.

There were voices insisting cycling should not be trimmed at all, given their recent record and potential to carry on in the same vein, and making best use of superb facilities in Cambridge.


But that was pie-in-the-sky thinking. It's a brutal business. Fail to deliver and you get hit.

When New Zealand's track team headed off to Hong Kong and the world championships this week, they may have had the words of chief executive Andrew Matheson, ringing in their ears: produce good results and there is scope for that funding to return. Two days in and you can't fault New Zealand's performances in Hong Kong.

The boom trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins have won their third gold medal in four years. Add a bronze and two silvers and never having missed the podium since 2012 and you're talking about sustained excellence at the top.

The two team pursuit groups have won medals, too.

The men's quartet of Piet Bulling, Nick Kergozou, Regan Gough and Dylan Kennett won silver in 3min 53.979 behind Australia, twice going under the national record in two days.

"We have come in with a rethink and restructure after Rio," said Southland ironman Bulling. "We've nailed every session, we've all bought into the plan."

The women lost their way in the sport around the time of the London Games in 2012. They were down-scaled in priorities by CNZ. Their bronze, after a sluggish opening ride and a vastly improved first round effort, should be celebrated.

They trailed Italy by 1.3s after 3000m but fought back hard as the Italians fractured and fell apart, New Zealand winning in 4:21.778.

Consider it an exercise in finding their way out of a dark hole from Jaime Nielsen, Michaela Drummond, Racquel Sheath, Rushlee Buchanan and Kirstie James.

It was New Zealand's first world championship medal since the discipline was changed to four riders competing over 4000m and their first since bronze in 2011 as a three-person team.

Nielsen was in that team, and the bronze medallists of 2009. "I am stoked. It was a bit emotional. We are climbing back up," she said.

There are sure to be those pooh-poohing results in the year after an Olympics. It's not unusual for sports top athletes to take time out after an Olympic campaign ends.

Doesn't matter. You ride, run, swim against whoever turns up. New Zealand's pursuit results mean they have a foothold, skin in the game if you will.

Remembering his words, Matheson, who is in Hong Kong, might just afford himself a small smile at what he has seen so far.