Gold rush for South Australians in the velodrome
It was an eventful Commonwealth Games for the 18 South Australian track cyclists who ventured to Birmingham in the green and gold.
An inspiring effort from the Men’s Team Sprint on day one resulted in one of the first gold medal wins for the Australian cycling team and a new Commonwealth Games/Australian record with a time of 42.040.
Matthew Richardson, who featured on the gold-winning sprint team, also managed an individual gold medal win after completing a scintillating performance in the sprint double.
SASI athlete and Commonwealth Games first-timer Beau Wootton claimed the bronze medal in the Men’s Para Tandem Sprint.
Wootton was accompanied by Western Australian pilot Luke Zaccaria on the track and the podium.
Amid the emotion in the men’s cycling events, SA based Kristina Clonan claimed the top prize in the Women’s 500m Time Trial and smashed the Commonwealth Games record in the process.
Clonan achieved a record-breaking time of 33.234 seconds continuing the tradition of an Australian winning the event every time an Aussie has competed.
Another golden girl in the Velodrome was SA based Georgia Baker who donned the green and gold to take to the top step of the podium after the Women’s 25km Points Race – winning by 55 points.
“Everyone’s going crazy, winning gold. It’s the new era, everyone’s really excited and feeding off one another,” she said.
SASI graduate Maeve Plouffe was able to bring home second place in the Women's Individual 3000m Pursuit on day two of the Games, after incredible execution in Women’s Team Pursuit where the girls struck gold.
Plouffe managed to clock the second fastest time in qualifying as a perfect set up for the final against the New Zealander Bryony Botha, merely losing out to the Kiwi with a time of 3:27.122.
“That was really tough, I’m still very young and I’m still learning the tactical side of this race,” Plouffe said.
“This morning I went off way too hot, I was very excited. So, this afternoon, I was trying to be more conservative and be more controlled and leave some energy for the back end of the race.
“It was a mistake. If I could race it again, I’d have done it in a different way.”
Ending Australia’s para-cycling campaign on an all-time high with one last gold was SASI athlete Caitlin Wardwho was pilot for Jess Gallagher beating the clock with a 1:07.138 in the Women’s Tandem 1000m Time Trial.
This was the pair’s second gold at the Games as they started off Australia’s gold rush by winning the first gold medal in the Women’s Tandem B Sprint.
Australia cemented their cycling dominance at Lee Valley VeloPark adding another bronze medal in the Men’s 4000m Team Pursuit.
The team was made up of SA based riders Joshua Duffy, Graeme Frislie, James Moriarty, Conor Leahyand Victoria’s Lucas Plapp.
Leahy also managed to top off the tally with an individual bronze medal in the Men's Individual 4000m Pursuit with a time of 4:09.311.
On the final day of Australia’s track cycling campaign, SA based Thomas Cornish won a silver medal in the Men’s 1000m Time Trial on his Commonwealth Games Debut.
Cornish finished half a second behind Matthew Glaetzer in the emotionally charged Time Trial.
Matthew Glaetzer went on to be one of the most successful cyclists on the track at the Birmingham Games equalling an Australian record of five Commonwealth Games cycling golds.
This completes the massively triumphant Games for SASI athletes, graduates and South Australians, with the riders bringing home eight gold, two silver and three bronze medals.