August 3/02 12:03 pm - Commonwealth Games: Final day of racing story
Posted by Editoress on 08/3/02
On the final day of track competition at the Commonwealth Games it was the turn of New Zealand to step up to the top of the podium, taking two gold medals ahead of their Australian rivals in the women's Pursuit and the men's Points Race. Australia managed to preserve their track dominance at the Games by winning the final event at the velodrome Ë† the Team Sprint.
Sarah Ulmer followed up her Games record performance from the qualifying round by bettering her own record in the gold medal race against Australian Kathy Bates. Ulmer, the defending champion in the pursuit, knocked a further 0.037 seconds off her record. Alison Wright (Australia) beat Emma Davis (England) for the bronze medal.
"I thought that I would have to do a personal best to win, and it was just about that, by a couple of ticks. I'm really stoked by the win, and now I'm looking forward to the road race tomorrow."
None of the Canadians managed to make it through to the medal rounds, byt Hughes did lower the Canadian record again. "I'm pleased with my result, and like I said this is just an experiment. But I will be back next year, and start training seriously, so I expect to be competitive for the Worlds (in 2003)."
The men's Points Race started smoothly enough, but a quarter of the way through there was a serious crash that knocked one rider out, and led to the disqualification of another. Graeme Brown, the double gold medallist from Australia came up high under a group of riders going through the first turn, with Mark Kelly (Isle of Man) being forced into the barricade.
Wright slid down the track, and was run into by Will Wright (Wales) and Peter Dawson (Australia). Wright went down hard and could not start after a neutralized period while the riders were looked after and the track was repaired. Brown accepted the disqualification, but some knowledgeable observers thought that the punishment was too harsh for aggressive riding.
Greg Henderson had been off the front when the race was started, and he was started half a lap in front of the field. Some hard riding kept him in front to take top points on the next two successive sprints, and this proved to be the crucial margin, as he won by 8 points over Mark Renshaw (Australia). The New Zealand team did a strong job of keeping the pace high and chasing down any attempts by Australia to steal a lap.
In the final event of the track, Australia was up against a very strong English squad, which had taken second and third in the Kilo. However, the Australians proved to be the more cohesive unit, and won despite having slower splits then the English team for their second and third riders.
The track events end with Australia clearly the dominant nation. They took 8 of a possible 11 golds, and 15 out of 33 medals in total. England finished second in the medal count with 9, and Canada and New Zealand tied for third (3 medals each).