Sprinting to success

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Sprinting to success

Local stars Kai Arbery and Niel Van Niekerk have cycled to success, going back-to-back on the track.

The duo won the U19 National Team Sprint in the 2024 AusCycling Elite, Junior 19 and Para Track National Championships for the second year in a row.

The Mount Gambier athletes recently repeated history when they competed at the prestigious Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane with world champion Tatye Ryan from Adelaide and South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) sprint coach James Glasspool.

The line up followed last year’s success with Van Niekerk leading the charge followed by Arbury and rounded out by Ryan.

The South Australian team beat the previous state record of 46 seconds with its time of 45.9 seconds.

The local young guns said it was a relief to hold onto the U19 National Team Sprint title.

“I was really relieved more so, I was really happy as well but really relieved that we could go back-to-back, keep our title, beat our time from last year and get the state record,” Van Niekerk said.

“It was very relieving when we won because you never know what the other states are going to bring,” Arbery added.

“They could have been really good from last year, they could have improved heaps. You never know until you get there and start racing.”

The South Australian team beat Victoria in the final to hold onto the national title.

“As the race went on the gap grew, we were gapping them a fair bit but at the start it was pretty close,” Arbery said.

“The first lap was only a fraction faster than theirs and then it grew a little bit and on the last lap we gained a whole lot on them,” Van Niekerk said.

The cyclists said while they were faster than last year, a lack of team trainings affected their technicality on the velodrome.

“Technically we were not as good as we were last year but from this time last year to now we have had so much gym training and strength training and all that sort of stuff so it all helps,” Arbery said.

“I think we have all individually gotten a lot stronger which made us go faster even though the technical aspect suffered a little bit. We had to trust our coach and hope for the best.”

“Last year almost every second weekend we would go up to Adelaide and do the trainings whereas this year we only had one session together. It was a bit nerve-wracking hoping to get the technical aspect right as well,” Van Niekerk said.

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