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Ellesse Andrews snares silver for NZ's first cycling medal in Tokyo

Young Kiwi cyclist Ellesse Andrews has shocked the field to win silver in the women's keirin at the Tokyo Olympics this evening.

The 21-year-old rode brilliantly all evening to advance through the quarterfinals, semifinals, and then podium in the final. It was a sensational performance for the rookie at her first Olympic Games.

She found herself in fifth behind the derny in the opening laps, as the Ukrainian duo took the lead spots.

As the derny departed, she left her run late and found herself at the top of the track still in fourth position going into the last lap.

But in a burst of speed she flew around the outside and moved into the silver medal position. She kept fighting and nearly snuck the gold medal, finishing just 0.061 seconds behind Dutch rider Shanne Braspennincx.

Ellesse Andrews celebrates after winning the silver medal in the women's keirin at the Tokyo Olympics. Source: Photosport

The medal is the New Zealand cycling team's first at these Games, while it also takes the country's tally to 18, equalling the record set in Rio five years ago.

“I just started crying and I haven’t really stopped,” she said after the race, “and I don’t mind, because I’ve achieved a silver-medal performance for my country.

"To get a silver medal is amazing and I'm so proud of myself."

Ellesse Andrews won silver in the women's keirin at the Tokyo Olympics. Source: Photosport

Earlier in the evening, Andrews had shown she was in the mood, following two secon-place finishes in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

In her quarterfinal, she was second rider behind the derny. She took the lead after it departed the track and held on despite some strong challengers. She was just pipped at the line by Braspennincx but moved through to the semifinals with ease.

There was a change of tactic in her second race of the evening. Andrews found herself at the back of the pack behind the derny, but as soon as it departed she flew around the outside and took the lead.

The 21-year-old still had plenty of work to do to hang on with three laps still to go. But she dug deep on the final lap to go through in second place, advancing to the final.

Andrews becomes the second Olympic medallist out of Wanaka's Mount Aspiring College, following in the footsteps of snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott in 2018.