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Twice might be coincidence.
But three times is a habit.
And Otago runner Oli Chignell is certainly making a habit of winning the big races.
The 20-year-old secured his third senior men’s national title yesterday — an amazing feat considering he only stepped up from the junior ranks in February this year.
He had too much finishing power for Hamilton duo Aaron Pulford (second) and Hayden Wilde (third) during the senior men’s race at the national road race championships in Cambridge yesterday.
He pulled away in the last 100m to win to complete the 10km course in a time of 30min 42 sec — not a bad time considering the weather was reasonably challenging.
His wonderful run helped propel Otago to the senior men’s team title.
Caden Shields (fifth), Jacob Priddey (eighth) and Jared Monk (10th) all finished in the top 10 to help secure the win. There was disappointment for Joshua Baan, though. He pulled out because of sickness, while Rebekah Greene was also unwell and did not perform as well as she had hoped.
The versatile Chignell was thrilled to have completed a triple.
"You always hope for the best but, with the way my training has been tracking, I knew that I’d be able to do well," he said.
"But it was definitely a hard race. It wasn’t easy."
While Chignell has covered the same distance in a faster time, considering the conditions it was a very good time for him.
"It was quite windy, there was on-and-off rain and the course was not completely flat. It would have been a sub-30min run on a flat course in ideal conditions, so it was pretty good.
"I knew it was going to be a hard pace with the likes of Aaron Pulford and Hayden Wilde there. They’re both older and stronger, so I knew they would definitely be pushing the pace.
"It was neck-and-neck right until the last sort of 300m or so and then the pace really heated up. I was able to pull away in the last 100-150m to go, going down the wee downhill stretch leading into the finishing straight."
Chignell made a stunning debut as a senior, winning the senior men’s 5000m race at the New Zealand athletics championship in Hamilton in March.
Then last month Chignell won the senior men’s cross country title in Wellington.
His next major assignment is the national road relay championship in Canterbury next month.