Cyclists earn national track titles

Jack Whittall and Mackenzie Barnett show off their medals.

Cambridge Middle School now boasts two national champions and record holders following the National School Track Championships held late last month at the Avantidrome.

Mackenzie Barnett and Jack Whittall, two Year 8 students who happen to be born just three hours apart, each won the national titles for U13 girls and U13 boys respectively, having won their three races, the 550m sprint, 2000m points race and 1500m scratch race.

“I was pretty stoked,” smiled Jack, Mackenzie adding, “It’s really amazing to win such a title, but it makes it even more special when you win it with somebody you know.”

Being the first-ever National Schools Track Cycling Championships, their wins are also counted as records for the competition, which the pair were rather rapt about. “I’m just so excited about it for some reason, that we get to be the original record-setters.” said Mackenzie.

And there’s a good chance their records could stick for a while, having finished their races well ahead of the pack, in one case a half-a-track ahead. “I think that we might hold the records for a couple of years,” Mackenzie said with a smile, later adding, “Jack and I managed to get some good leads through tactical thinking.”

It’s been just a year and a half since Jack and Mackenzie started track cycling, under the wing of coach Colin Dixon at the Avantidrome.

“Track cycling is an extremely tactical sport,” Mackenzie said. “You normally get behind the people in the front for most of the race, and then when you know that you’ve got enough energy, and it’s coming to the end, you pull up and around, and basically use most of your energy sprinting to get ahead and just keep going as fast as you can until the finish. Then when you get off the track and go down the ramp your legs are like jelly. It’s really fun.”

“To sum it up, it was an incredible experience,” Jack said.

“It was a good experience for all of us, not just us winning, but the other cyclists from our school who did it as well. I think we all had fun doing it.”

Next up, the pair will compete in the North Island Schools Road and Track Cycling Champs in July, being held in Cambridge, followed by the National School Road Champs in Christchurch in September.

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