The Commonwealth Games are off to a flying start for the New Zealand track cycling team. The world champion men's sprint team of Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Eddie Dawkins has added a Commonwealth Games gold medal; the Herald reports:
New Zealand struck gold for the first time at the Commonwealth Games in real style at the Chris Hoy velodrome today.
The trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins flew around the 250m track in a Games record time of 43.181 seconds, eclipsing the record they had set in qualifying a couple of hours earlier.
The ebullient Dawkins immediately lifted his bike above his head saluting a block of New Zealand fans, before a New Zealand flag was produced and draped around the trio's shoulders.
"We came here to win gold and to walk away with that is just...unreal," Mitchell told Sky Sport.
"I think we just had to do the same process we did in the qualifying, we rode really well. We went out quicker and to back up like that is a credit to how fast these guys [Webster, Dawkins] go really."
They always had their noses in front of gallant England, who recorded a time of 43.706s.
As world champions, courtesy of their victory in Cali, Colombia earlier this year, they were favourites. But it's one thing to have that mantle; another altogether to justify the tag.
The men's sprint team has emerged as the class turn of New Zealand track cycling. Considerable resources have been invested in developing sprinters of international standard, and this year's success is the pay-off for that investment. With World Championship and Commonwealth Games gold medals, they must be in the early running for the Team award at the Halberg Awards early next year.
Here's hoping that this morning's gold medal is the first of many for the New Zealand team in Glasgow. The Commonwealth Games may not be in the same league as the Olympics, but we can still expect some outstanding performances from our athletes.