Speedway win doubly satisfying

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Gore’s Matt Highsted (16) has won the Southland Solo B Grade Championships, held at Oreti Park Speedway on Saturday.

It was pretty cool to win the race as it was his first win at a meet this season and his first on the big bikes, Matt said.

The speedway bike he rides for competition is about 500cc, has no brakes, only turns left and can go from 0kmh to 100kmh in 2.5 seconds.

Much of what went on when preparing for a race was mental and he had to stay calm, Matt said.

“At the track, leading up to the race, you kind of clear your mind and stay focused, make sure you don’t do anything silly because it will cost you.”

The championship win is all the more impressive as Matt has spent a lot of time recovering from a rugby concussion, which resulted in him having to give up the game in 2016.

I got tackled and then my face kind of smashed on to the ground and then someone ran across me .

Matt said it was a pretty bad concussion, which resulted in headaches for months and trips to Dunedin to see specialists, including a neurologist.

“Even sometimes now I get quite severe headaches from it.”

The concussion occurred when he was tackled in a game.

“I got tackled and then my face kind of smashed on to the ground and then someone ran across me and their boot went into my head.”

After not being able to play rugby any more he helped out as his uncle’s speedway pit crew, Matt said.

“I thought I might as well give it a go myself since I’m not playing rugby any more and I wasn’t doing anything sport wise.”

The age for riding on the bigger bikes is restricted to 16 and over, so Matt, who was only 15 at the start of the season, had to apply for a dispensation to allow him to race.

“That got accepted and it all started from there.”

Next season Matt hopes to get into the A grade, which is for the top riders, and also hopes to attend some national championships.