Golden start to Velodrome battles

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The crack men’s sprint cyclists won New Zealand's first gold medal of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The men’s team blitzed their English rivals in the final to the delight of the many New Zealanders in the crowd at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. New Zealand flags dotted the scene and there was plenty of cheering and encouragement.

The New Zealanders – Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins – won the world team sprint title in Colombia earlier this year and the ride in Glasgow emphasised their superiority in this most explosive of events.

In the final the New Zealanders were away quicker and had opened up a half-second lead by the end of the second of the three laps.

Their time of 43.181 (average speed 62.527kmh) was a Commonwealth Games record. The English were timed at 43.709s. In their qualifying ride, the New Zealanders clocked 43.254s, so their class was evident throughout the event.

Both times lower their previous best.

I was delighted. The boys have put in the work, we knew we were in that sort of shape and they came out and delivered,” said coach Anthony Peden.

New Zealand also has sprint riders in the quarterfinals of the individual event, to be held tomorrow.

Earlier Sam Webster broke the Commonwealth record with a 9.9s effort, which was beaten by teammate Dawkins in 9.8 with Australian Matt Glaetzer taking top spot in 9.7.

Webster, Dawkins and Matt Archibald all went through in the first round, with Dawkins accounting for Olympic champion Jason Kenny, who got through to the quarterfinals in a repechage.

Perhaps the biggest cheer was for young sprinter Stephanie McKenzie, a late addition to the games team, who whipped more than half a second off her best and the national record in the 500m time trial.

In her first significant international event as an elite, McKenzie was pleased to finish fourth overall in the event won by the truly great Anna Meares.

The second medal went to the men’s team pursuit, who responded to their disappointing effort in the qualifying, where they made a mess of the final kilometre to finish third overall. The combination of Dylan Kennett, Pieter Bulling, Marc Ryan and Shane Archbold crushed Canada, overtaking them in a little over 2kms to claim the bronze.

Australia were far too strong for England in the gold medal match.

CAPTION: Ethan Mitchell puts the hammer down in the team sprint. Credit: Guy Swarbrick.

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