Cycling: Aaron Gate smashes national record one day after winning Halberg Award

Aaron Gate celebrates at finish line.
Aaron Gate celebrates at finish line. Photo credit: Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after being named Sportsman of the Year at the Halberg Awards, Aaron Gate celebrated by smashing his own national record in the individual pursuit at the Oceania Track Cycling Championships in Cambridge.

Gate returned to Cambridge in time for the afternoon heats of the 4000 metre individual pursuit, but saved something special for the final.

The Commonwealth Games gold medalist clocked 4m 06.468s to claim the victory, clipping 0.66s off his own New Zealand record in the process. 

It was a remarkable ride, going through 2000m in 2m 08s and then producing a negative split final 2000m in 1m 58s.

"My coach thought I was joking when I suggested we have a crack at the national record a day after the Halbergs," said Gate. "It was good to get a line in the sand, not target any championship.

"It was more about a test of where I am at, what is working well and what I need to work on through to Paris.

"It did take a while to get to sleep after the adrenalin of that special evening. It was nice to set a marker in the sand and now prepare for the Hong Kong World Cup in a month's time.

"I wanted to show there is progression in what I am doing, to come out here with atmospheric conditions that were not ideal, and to do it in a way I like to race with a negative split shows the legs are there and nice to tick this one off, given I have not raced an IP since Birmingham."

Gate overtook young Southland prospect Marshall Erwood, who qualified for the final in his first year in the elite division.

 Aaron Gate celebrates with his Sportsman of the Year Halberg Award.
Aaron Gate celebrates with his Sportsman of the Year Halberg Award. Photo credit: Photosport

His Cycling New Zealand teammate and Commonwealth Games champion, Bryony Botha claimed the women's 3000m individual pursuit in 3m 21.175s over teammate Emily Shearman.

Australian visitors claimed the elite sprint finals with team sprint world champion Matthew Richardson prevailing in two-straight rides over compatriot Leigh Hoffman, and in the elite women Kristina Clonan over New Zealand's Shaane Fulton, who is returning to the form she showed prior to two years out following significant hip surgery.

New Zealand para-cyclists dominated the individual pursuit finals with winners including Ben Westenberg in men’s C4, Ieuan Edwards in men’s C5, Sarah Ellington in women’s C2, Anna Taylor in women’s C4, Nicole Murray in women’s C5, Devon Briggs in men’s C3 and Unity Collins in the women’s para B final.

The highlights came from Murray, who lowered her personal best, faster than the time in securing the silver medal at the 2023 world championships in Glasgow, while Briggs equalled his world championship time in qualifying and made the catch early in his final.