World record for para cyclist Nikita Howarth

Paralympian Nikita Howarth. Picture: RNZ

Paralympian Nikita Howarth showed she means business in the sport of Para cycling breaking the Flying 200m world record at the Southland Track Cycling Championships in Invercargill.

Howarth is well-known for her achievements in Para swimming, debuting at the London 2012 Paralympic Games as New Zealander’s youngest ever Paralympian at the age of 13.

Four years later she won a gold and bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Following Rio 2016 Howarth took time to consider her sporting future and choose Para cycling as her next challenge.

Her time of 12.95 seconds took 0.248 seconds off the previous record set by New Zealand Paralympian Kate Horan in February 2016.

Nikita Howarth, world record holder said, “I’m thrilled as I have only been training for this specific event for about a month now. I have completed this time in training, only once before so I thought I could do it but with all the race nerves it is challenging and you never quite know how it is going to go.

She continued, “I have had a change in coach recently and now Damien Wiseman is with me every day at the track. We have changed our training and have been more focussed on the sprint which has paid off today. I have trimmed about 3 seconds off my personal best time so I am happy with that and I’m looking forward to continuing to focus on this.”

Howarth was one of 16 Para cyclists competing at the Southland Cycling Track Championships showing the crowds great racing and incredible speed at the velodrome.

The final day of Para cycling events saw the Para cyclists competing across various classifications in the Individual Pursuit events. This UCI sanctioned event gave all Para cyclists the opportunity to meet nomination criteria for selection to the New Zealand Para Cycling Team that will compete at the 2019 UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships in the Netherlands in March.

Stu MacDonald (Para Cycling Head Performance Coach) said, “It was another great day at the velodrome as the Para cyclists performed well under pressure with 3 national and 1 world records. It was quite a tough day as the groups had very little time to rest and get back on the track after racing yesterday. The conditions were really fast on the track today, so the riders knew they had a really good chance to post some good times and grasped the opportunity. Emma and Hannah’s pursuit race stands out today, as a new partnership they have put a lot of work in over the last couple of months and it is really paying off. The result is a positive step for New Zealand tandems to get back on the international podium in the pursuit event.”

He continued, “I’m proud of the whole team, athletes and staff that are here in Invercargill. However, it is also those support staff that are based in the home towns of the Para cyclists that are with them on a day to day basis that are critical to the success we have seen today and without the support of High Performance Sport NZ this would not be possible. Overall, today’s racing was a great step in the right direction towards selection for the UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships, and onwards to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”

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