Posted by Editoress on 03/7/12
Monique Sullivan and Travis Smith, both from Calgary, Alberta, each won medals at the 2012 UCI Pan-American Championships in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, while Heather Moyse of Summerside, PEI rode to the fifth place of the women’s sprint, capping an extraordinary day for Canadians at the velodrome.
The women’s sprint event started Monday, but with the extended rain delays affecting the outdoor velodrome, the final set of races were held Tuesday. Sullivan posted the fastest qualifying time at 11.486 seconds, and continued her fast and winning ways on the second day of competition, all the way to the gold medal race. In the featured race, Sullivan defeated her rival, Cuban rider Lisandra Guerra, who had the second fastest qualifying time. In the gold medal race, Guerra took the win in the first heat, but Sullivan came right back and won the second heat to push the race to a third and decisive heat, to decide the winner and Pan-American Champion.
“This was my first real international win, my first time hearing the Canadian national anthem while standing on the top step of the podium. I am really happy, Lisandra is a great competitor and this is my first time beating her head-to-head in a sprint. In the final, she won the first ride by an inch. In the second ride, I changed my tactic and won the round, pushing it to the third ride. I am extra pleased to have come back from being down in the first ride,” said Sullivan, the current Canadian Champion in the event.
Added Sullivan: “This is very special for me. There was a lot of pressure to perform here, and I knew I could do it, but to actually execute what I knew I could do, that's special. This is very good for my Olympic qualification in the sprints, but nothing is confirmed until after the World Championships. Tomorrow I have the opportunity to qualify for a second event, the Keirin.”
“I really want to thank everyone on the team (riders and staff) who have helped me improve over the past few years and also my sponsor PCL Construction who makes all the traveling possible,” concluded Sullivan.
Heather Moyse, an Olympic Gold medallist in the sport of bobsleigh, and competitive rugby player, who raced her career second cycling race at the Pan Ams, qualified ninth with a time of 12.246 seconds, and went on to win her first match sprint. In the second round, she went on to face her Canadian teammate, Monique Sullivan. But Sullivan’s experience and momentum proved to be the determining factor, with the national champion taking the victory. Moyse then contested the ride-off for fifth to eighth places, a race she went to win to take the fifth place in the overall standings.
Tuesday also featured the men’s Keirin race. Canada had Joseph Veloce of Fonthill, Ontario, and Travis Smith entered in the race. Veloce won his opening race to earn his way to the semi-finals, while Smith failed to qualify and was relegated to the repechage round. Smith won the repechage rounds, and made it through the semi-finals.
In the final race of the day, Smith crossed the finish line in third place after leading most of the race, and took the bronze medal.
“Head coach Richard [Wooles] and I decided yesterday [Monday] that I should ride the Keirin today. The original plan was for the other two sprinters here to ride. As soon as we decided, I was nervous! I wanted to have a good ride to secure Olympic spot and get the points,” said Smith after the race.
“It started off slow for me, as my legs felt a little flat and I was passed at the line of the first heat. This meant I was sent to the repechage rounds, to fight my way back into the rounds. I won my Rep and was back into the semi finals later in the day.
“When I got back to the track, I found that I was in the first heat with a world class set of riders. I took the front and led for almost two laps to win the heat and advance to the finals. In the Finals I drew the #6 rider [position] and was at the back. When the bike pulled off I went to the front, as I didn't want to be in the mess of all the riders. Leading into a lap and a half, one of the Venezuelan riders passed on the apron and took us all high. So I went from first to last, just like that! I kept fighting all the way to the line and ended up finishing third, and getting good Olympics qualifying points. I’m really excited how the races went; I felt like I could have won the race, but this is racing and stuff happens. Next for me is the UCI Track World Championships in Australia, where my teammates and I will get to race the best in the world.”
Report courtesy CCA
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