Whanganui skaters collect an impressive pleasing haul of medals 24 of them gold at the New Zealand Speed Skating Champs in Palmerston North in the first week of the New Year.
The road venue at Memorial Park is a purpose-built 400m circuit that is very slick and produced a lot of national records, many of which were clocked by Whanganui Skaters.
Tweny-six-year-old Andrew Jones was all class defending his 20,000m elimination title and looked unbeatable in anything over 1000m. He collected silver in the 200m Time Trial and the 1km but a minor groin injury in the 500m heats sidelined him for a couple of days, so a bunch of New Zealand titles went begging.
Eighteen-year-old Monique Cleeve was also dominant in the senior women's field winning both the Open 20k elimination and the 10k points with ease. She backed it up with silver and bronze in the shorter distances behind a South Canterbury sprint specialist.
Total domination of the Juvenile Boys grade (9 but not yet 12) belonged to Joshua Valentine wining every road event in national record time. His 500m record eclipsed the 15-year-old mark set by multiple world champion and 2018 Ice Olympian Peter Michael.
Valentine needed to reach speeds over 40km/hour to achieve this, clearly the fastest 11-year-old in the sport's history. His time was faster than the Junior Boys (not yet 15) and the Intermediate Men (not yet 17) .
This effort won him the Joe Bright Memorial Trophy for an outstanding performance by a male skater.
Krystine Davies was never going to be beaten in the Masters Ladies. The 2017 World Masters Champion broke three out of four of her own records proving that the 57-year-old is still getting faster. She also finished a creditable 6th in the Open Ladies 20k.
The Junior Boys relay team of Chase Morpeth, Drew Brennan and Joshua Valentine won their 3000m team relay with ease while our Senior Ladies team of Monique Cleeve, Renee Teers and Krystine Davies secured the silver behind the strong South Canterbury team.
There were a number of other great efforts for silver and bronze. Chase Morpeth's small stature proved to be a bit of a disadvantage on the fast open circuit but managed silvers in the Junior boys 200m Time Trial and 500m and bronze in the 1k and the 5k points, while a strong finish from Drew Brennan in his first year in the grade collected every other minor medal. The grade was dominated by South Canterbury's Kaylum McAuley who was a year older and stood a head taller than the Whanganui pair.
A technical fault in the start cost Tazia Parker a title in the Juvenile Girls 200m Time Trial, she picked up silver in the 500m and 3k and bronze in the 1k while the tiny Gabriella Valentine in her first year in the grade after dominating Primary Girls last year won the silver in the 1k and bronze in the rest.
Sixteen-year-old Renee Teers collected silver in the 1k and bronze in the time trial and the 10k points. Seven-year-old Hadleigh Smith finished second for silvers in the Primary Boys 200m Time Trial and the 1k along with a bronze in the 500m.
The Masters Ladies dais belonged to Whanganui with Debra Smith, 40, taking out the silvers and Crystle Denbee, 30, the bronze in all the races behind Davies, but Denbee managed to finish ahead of Smith in the time trial by a few thousandths of a second to win silver.
In the Masters Men 45-year-old Paul Cleeve managed a bronze in the 1000m in a strong international field.
On day three the championship moved indoors for the Flat Track. The event was originally set for Arena 2 but flooding from very heavy rain in Palmerston North over Christmas left the floor seriously damaged and the event moved to the B&M Centre.
The venue produced some great racing but with most of the current national records set on Whanganui's lightning fast Jubilee Stadium records were much harder to come by.
Only one record was broken across all grades in the 300m Time Trials with Krystine Davies bettering her own record. Davies was just outside her 500m time and went on to clock fastest times in both the 1k and the 3k but technical errors by officials meant those two records could not be confirmed.
The other two Whanganui Masters Ladies continued to fill the dais behind her with Debra Smith silver and Crystle Denbee bronze in all events.
Monique Cleeve continued her strong presence in the senior ladies field with an emphatic win in the 1500m leading from start to finish, she also won the 800m and was second in the time trial.
Andrew Jones returned for just the one flat track event, his title defence of the George Hailes Memorial 10,000m he won the 100 lap event convincingly lapping the field several times.
The 100m indoor circuit was Chase Morpeth's turn to shine winning gold in the Junior Boys time trial, the 800m and the 3000m. A crash in the last lap of the 1500m foiled his chance of a clean sweep but his greatest result came in the George Hailes Memorial 10,000m where he finished second to Jones to become the youngest ever medallist in an open mens event at just 13 years and 16 days. It was this effort that secured the Oscar for the most outstanding performance across all grades and gender.
Joshua Valentine continued his unbeaten run winning gold in the Time Trial, the 800m and the 1500m, but didn't skate the 400m so no clean sweep for him either however he did easily secure the trophy for the overall juvenile boys champion.
Tazia Parker (Juvenile Girls) and Hadleigh Smith (Primary boys) both had the officials checking finish line video but unfortunately finished just millimetres on the wrong side of titles and had to settle for silvers. Silver and bronze also for Renee Teers to add to her road medals.
And a strong finish from fast improving Lucas Hodgson to pick up bronze in the Juvenile Boys 400m.
In the team relays our ladies, Monique Cleeve, Krystine Davies and Renee Teers once again had to settle for silver behind the strong Shout Canterbury team. Junior Boys Chase Morpeth, Drew Brennan and Lucas Hodgson were clearly the fastest team on the track but a questionable technical fault had them disqualified.
The mixed team event, however, (2 female, 2 male) was totally dominated by Whanganui and a real family affair with siblings Brennan, Hodgson and Valentine all collecting medals. The golds went to Chase Morpeth, Drew Brennan, Nicole Valentine and Kiera Hodgson while the silver went to Joshua Valentine, Lucas Hodgson, Gabbie Valentine and Keira Brennan.
Coach Gary Clark said the team had just enough talent to take out the Unity shield for the club with the most points, but it was always going to be a tough ask against South Canterbury so things would have to go our way.
"A couple of untimely crashes and injuries, officials decisions and close calls didn't go our way so Whanganui was a strong second on the points table," Clark said.
Next years Championships are in Timaru on South Canterbury's home tracks.