4 Feb 2017

Webster wins national sprint title

7:46 am on 4 February 2017

Olympic silver medallist Sam Webster has claimed his fifth consecutive men's sprint title at the National Track Cycling Championships in Invercargill.

Sam Webster wins another title at the New Zealand National Track Cycling Champs.

Sam Webster wins another title at the New Zealand National Track Cycling Champs. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Webster overcame his Auckland and New Zealand team-mate Ethan Mitchell in two rides after Mitchell had topped qualifying in the morning.

While Webster is best known as one-third of New Zealand's world champion team sprint line-up, the national individual sprint title has special meaning for him after he first used it as a springboard back into the black skinsuit after missing out on selection for the 2012 London Olympics.

"After missing out on London it was my goal to win four sprint titles, because that was me putting my hand up for Rio and saying you can't leave me out again," said Webster.

"I needed to get to Rio otherwise I was going to finish my degree and stop riding, it was that simple. I put all my eggs in that basket because that London disappointment hurt me.

"We've got a different plan now. We've got a big few years coming up and Tokyo is going to be big for us, because we've got that fire in the belly. We will look to build each year, potentially some of the events that were important before won't be as important now."

Eddie Dawkins was the third fastest qualifier but suffered a surprise quarterfinal loss to Callum Saunders.

He proved that result was no fluke when he pushed Mitchell to three rides in their semifinal, but it was another Rio Olympian in Zac Williams who made it a clean sweep for Auckland when he won the bronze medal final in two rides over Saunders.

Southland's Natasha Hansen defended her New Zealand title in the women's sprint with two comfortable-looking wins over Olivia Podmore in the final.

"It was my first sprint racing since Rio, so I felt like I was just trying to get my bearings in the first few rounds," Hansen said.

"It was good to meet Emma in the semis because she has been pushing me to my limits in training and it was good to have that hard racing going into the final."

Hansen will race the keirin today before returning for work in Hamilton where she has recently completed her qualifications to be an air traffic controller.

"I'm pretty lucky with my company Airways, they've been so good with giving me the time off I need with my sport."

Rushlee Buchanan, who has come off tough road racing for her US professional team in Australia, won the women's 20km points race from Rio Olympic teammate Racquel Sheath, with Michaela Drummond third.

Dylan Kennett won the men's 15km scratch race.