We will welcome them

Waipā members of the New Zealand cycling sprint squad, from left, Ellesse Andrews, Olivia King, Rebecca Petch, Nick Flyger (sprint coach), Sam Webster, Sam Daikin and Bradley Knipe, holding Fionn Cullinane (assistant sprint coach). Photo: Anna Meares

Street parades will be held in Waipā for the district’s Commonwealth Games athletes to recognise their achievements in Birmingham.

The games still have another four days to go so there might be even more successes to come.

Liz Stolwyk

Liz Stolwyk

“Whatever else happens, we really need to celebrate their achievements. They deserve that,” deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk told The News.

Right from day one Waipā athletes were to the fore with squash player Joelle King chosen with Cantabrian Tom Walsh as the New Zealand team’s flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony.

The next day cyclists Ellesse Andrews, Rebecca Petch and Olivia King dominated Canada to win the women’s team sprint gold in a Games record at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London.

Sam Webster, Sam Dakin and Bradley Knipe won bronze in the team sprint soon after.

Cycling New Zealand’s interim chief executive Monica Robbers, who lives in Cambridge, said the atmosphere at the velodrome, nicknamed Pringle because of its shape, was electric.

“Cycling New Zealand has done itself proud,” she said.

Stolwyk said she always felt it was “inevitable” the cycling team would do well in Birmingham.

“The hard work of these determined people has paid off,” she said.

The New Zealand cycling team’s success comes just under three months after an independent inquiry found cycling’s high-performance model was “broken” and needed to be “reimagined.”

The report was commissioned after the death through a suspected suicide last year of elite Cambridge-based cyclist Olivia Podmore.

The inquiry found fault with the centralised high performance base in Cambridge that it said carried a risk for athlete wellbeing.

Joelle King. Photo: PSA World Tour.

Cambridge squash player Joelle King, who has already won six medals at previous Commonwealth Games, was in line to win three more when The News went to print. After her shock semi-final loss, King was to play for bronze earlier today (Thursday) with the doubles and mixed doubles schedule for the game’s final day on Monday.

“We’ve had some amazing welcome homes in the past,” said Stolwyk, a reference to parades when Olympic gold medallists Rob Waddell and Sarah Ulmer were honoured.

The council would work closely with the athletes to find a suitable date.

Petch is from Te Awamutu and passed up the opportunity to compete at the world BMX champs in France to ride in Birmingham.

She came agonisingly close to adding to her medal tally when she rode the third fastest time in the women’s 500m time trial, only to be overtaken by the final rider from Australia who went on to win gold.

Her Te Awamutu BMX teammates competed with some success in France. Leon Dumbell made the 10-year-old boys final and now has a world ranking of three.

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