Tom Sexton adds to Southland’s golden cycling legacy

Tom Sexton of New Zealand reacts after his race in the men's 4000m individual pursuit qualifying during the Commonwealth Games track cycling at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Ian Walton / AP

Tom Sexton of New Zealand reacts after his race in the men’s 4000m individual pursuit qualifying during the Commonwealth Games track cycling at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Tom Sexton has penned yet another chapter for Southland cycling’s ever-growing and impressive history books.

The 23-year-old former James Hargest College pupil won gold as part of the New Zealand men’s team pursuit on Saturday morning at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

It was the first time New Zealand had won Commonwealth Games gold in the men’s team pursuit since 1990.

Watching on proudly from their Invercargill home were parents Paul and Theresa Sexton.

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Tom Sexton, second from left, with team mates Aaron Gate, Jordan Kerby, and Campbell Stewart after winning gold in the men's team pursuit at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

SWPix / www.photoport.nz

Tom Sexton, second from left, with team mates Aaron Gate, Jordan Kerby, and Campbell Stewart after winning gold in the men’s team pursuit at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The couple traveled to watch their son compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, but Paul said they were more than happy to watch this gold medal triumph at home on TV.

“Me and my wife just watched it here on our own at home, it was really good.”

Soon after arriving back to the team hotel after the gold medal ride Tom checked in with his parents.

Despite the special performance, Tom was very relaxed about the situation, Paul said.

“He understates a lot of stuff, he doesn’t like hyping stuff up. He doesn’t like hyping stuff up before it either. “

“He’s very relaxed, and that might be why he’s doing so well.”

In fact, Paul admits Tom probably wouldn’t be all that thrilled with him speaking publicly about his thoughts and just how proud his parents are of him.

The fact is, the whole of Southland has every right to be proud of what one of their own produced at the velodrome at the 2022 Commonwealth Games during the weekend.

Twenty-four hours after helping secure New Zealand with a men’s team pursuit gold Sexton was back amongst the medals.

Sexton set a Commonwealth Games record on the way to booking a spot in the gold medal ride against fellow Kiwi Aaron Gate in the 4000m individual pursuit.

Aaron Gate and Tom Sexton after winning gold and silver in the men's 4000m individual pursuit at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Justin Setterfield / Getty Images

Aaron Gate and Tom Sexton after winning gold and silver in the men’s 4000m individual pursuit at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Knowing it would take a bit to shake the impressive Gate, Sexton went out super hard in the final and led by 1.4 seconds at the halfway point.

However, he was unable to maintain a consistent pace and faded over the second half of the 4000m race, with Gate powering home to win in 4: 07.760.

Silver in an event that Sexton didn’t lump a whole heap of expectation on himself should not be scoffed at though.

It’s a worthy reward for the 23-year-old whose journey started out as an eight-year-old in Southland when he took part in some club road racing.

By 10 years old Sexton was riding around the indoor velodrome in Invercargill and by 2016 he was a junior world champion as part of the team pursuit.

He then set his sights on the elite ranks.

“He left home when he had just turned 18 with the goal of being in the elite [New Zealand] team. He finished school one day and the next day he got in the car and drove to Cambridge, ”Paul said.

Tom Sexton in action in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.

Ian Walton / AP

Tom Sexton in action in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.

The sport of cycling has been his fulltime job ever since as he now spends most of the time based in Spain where he is part of the Black Spoke Pro Cycling team.

Sexton will race in the road time trial at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday, but there will be little time for the Southlander to celebrate his success after that.

He will rejoin his Black Spoke team for an important road race in France.

Sexton is one of four Southland cyclists competing at the Commonwealth Games with Bradly Knipe also claiming a bronze medal on Saturday morning as part of the New Zealand men’s sprint team.

The other Southland cyclists who will feature on the track are Corbin Strong and Nick Kergozou.

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