Thomas Sexton won the country’s first medal in Poland with an impressive third placing in the men’s scratch race before the women’s pursuit team combination of Michaela Drummond, Bryony Botha, Holly Edmondston and Kirstie James stormed home to beat Canada in the bronze medal ride, despite struggling with illness during the lead-up to the event.
After leading for two thirds of the race, they clocked a time of 4min 16.479sec and managed to beat Canada by more than three seconds.
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“We have definitely come a long way since last year,” said Botha. “We’ve probably been on the track a bit too long and have been a bit rundown for these world champs.
“But we’ve come in feeling confident and confident about each other in performing and getting the bronze medal tonight.
“A key was the three riders who were ill who did everything they could to be better for race day. They missed trainings to recover but we were able to get them better to race.
“This result means everything. We have come such a long way in just one year so I am excited to see what we can do in another year.”
Twenty-year-old Sexton led the scratch race on the penultimate lap, but was unable to hold off the fast finishing Australian Sam Welsford, who claimed gold ahead of runner-up, Dutchman Roy Eefting, in the sprint towards towards the line.
“There was a lot of passion out there. That was the main theme of the race. Enjoy it and have a bit of fun. And I came off with a bronze medal,” Sexton said.
“I wanted to follow all the moves. The plan was to go with two and a half laps to go and not look back which is what I did. Once I went it was full commitment to the line and a couple of chasers came and rolled me but I gave it everything.”
The two bronze medal winning performances mean New Zealand has already bettered its 2018 campaign, when Rushlee Buchanan won the only medal by finishing third in the women’s omnium.
But it has still been a below par world championships for the heavily-funded New Zealand programme, with the highly-touted men’s sprint team bombing out in the first round and the depleted men’s team pursuit combination also falling short of medal contention.
Eddie Dawkins, who was also struggling with illness earlier in the week, missed out on a place in the men’s keirin final, finishing ninth overall on Friday, while Natasha Hansen and Olivia Podmore failed to qualify for the women’s sprint quarterfinals.