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2006 Commonwealth Games - JR

Melbourne, Australia, March 16-26, 2006

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Day 3 - March 18: Men’s 4,000m team pursuit & sprint; Women’s sprint 

England fight back with two golds

By Mal Sawford in Melbourne

The third day of competition in Melbourne saw the English squad take some revenge for the first two days of pummeling at the hands of the Australians, winning two gold medals out of the three events contested. The English opened up well in the men's 4000m team pursuit, comfortably beating defending champions Australia in the final by nearly three seconds. New Zealand took the bronze after catching Malaysia in their ride-off.

In the men's sprint that followed, Australian Ryan Bayley continued his winning ways from last night, beating Scotland's Ross Edgar 2-0 in the final and showing that he is close to his best again. Canadian Travis Smith scored the bronze medal after beating Matthew Crampton (England) in the minor final. The women's sprint saw a reversal of the situation, when World Champion Victoria Pendleton (England) beat Anna Meares (Australia) in a three round final. Meares, the slower on paper, was able to take one round back from Pendleton, but the English rider came from behind to win the last round. Bronze was for Anna's sister Kerrie Meares, beating New Zealand's Elisabeth Williams.

Men’s 4,000m team pursuit

The lads from England
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Despite a brave effort by a young Australian team, the powerful English team was too strong in the gold medal ride off at the Commonwealth games, ending the home team's streak of four consecutive wins.

Peter Dawson sat out the qualifying ride, but came into the Aussie team for the final, replacing Ashley Hutchinson. Demonstrating the unity in the Australian team, Hutchinson filled the same role as Dawson had in the heat, helping Wooldridge mount his machine on the start line.

The Aussies went out hard, and were behind by half a second at the end of the first lap, and a full second after the first kilometre. Through the second kilometre, the English squad picked up the pace, and was 1.8 seconds up at the halfway mark. From there, the margin grew steadily, with both teams in the same straight for the final four laps, England eventually hitting the line in 4.02.600, to Australia's 4.05.494. Both teams finished with all four riders.

As expected, the bronze medal race was a formality for the vastly more experienced and stronger team from New Zealand. Peter Latham replaced Jason Allen for the ride, which saw the plucky Malaysians fly out of the blocks and lead for the first three laps, before the Kiwis were up to top speed. Once they were, they rapidly closed the half lap deficit, catching their opponents just past the half way mark.

Men’s sprint

Australia's Ryan Bayley
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Ryan Bayley (Australia) defended his Manchester gold medal in fine style, and maintained his unbeaten run at these Games. Bayley had won every round of the previous night's keirin, and claimed the sprint win tonight without losing a ride.

His opponent, Ross Edgar (Scotland) drew the starting position in the first round and made no real effort to force Bayley into the lead in the opening laps; and Bayley was equally content to follow. When Edgar made his move at the bell, the Australian matched his effort and began to move past before Edgar kicked again to get back on terms and the pair raced shoulder to shoulder to the finish, where the photo showing Bayley in front. The final round saw Bayley lead off at walking pace with a watchful Edgar sitting a couple of lengths behind. The margin had crept to three lengths and the bell, and Bayley jumped hard and maintained the advantage all the way to the line, cheered home by a delighted crowd.

"I was switched on from the start - I've been switched on all week," said Bayley in the mix zone. "He [Edgar] had me tied up in knots in the first heat, and I couldn't afford to do that again. I led him out in the second heat and could see him moving about so I got edgy...I started accelerating, and when I accelerate I just keep accelerating. It's very hard to come around someone when they are accelerating hard."

Women’s sprint

Victoria Pendleton celebrates
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Victoria Pendleton (England) hadn't put a foot wrong in the competition, and was a warm favourite going into the gold medal final against Anna Meares. In their first ride, Meares tried to hold the world champion high on the banking, but Pendleton was able to force her way into the lead. When Pendleton jumped just after the bell, Meares initially rode higher up the banking, and lost two lengths before she began to chase in earnest. With the crowd roaring in support, Meares flew after Pendleton, and made a huge amount of ground in the final straight, finishing almost alongside her rival, but coming up a few inches short.

The second ride saw Meares take the initiative and ride strongly from the front. The pair powered side by side for the entire final lap, and once again finished together, but this time the photo showed the Australian marginally ahead, sending the final to a deciding round.
Meares drew the lead position for the decider, and tried once more to keep Pendleton against the fence - but again the taller English rider found a way out. The gold medal was decided in another drag race to the line, with Meares fighting all the way to the line as Pendleton drew level. In the final ten metres, Pendleton finally drew half a wheel clear, and claimed the win in a terrific contest that had the crowd on its feet.

Pendleton knew that despite her superior pace evident in the qualifying rides, match racing Meares would be a tough contest. "After that second heat I was pretty annoyed with myself to be honest - I had a few hard words to myself," she said. "I was kind of confident going into the final, but you can't concentrate on winning a medal in a sprint - you have to focus on the race.



Men's 4000m team pursuit finals

Final for bronze

1 New Zealand
  Jason Allen
  Hayden Godfrey
  Timothy Gudsell
  Marc Ryan
2 Malaysia                          caught
  Amirrudin Jamaludin
  Mohd Zahit. Mohd Sayuti
  Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lufti
  Weng Kim Thum
Final for gold

1 England                           4.02.699 (59.333km/h)
  Stephen Cummings
  Rob Hayles
  Paul Manning
  Chris Newton
2 Australia                         4.05.494 (58.657km/h)
  Matthew Goss
  Peter Dawson
  Mark Jamieson
  Stephen Wooldridge

Men's sprint finals

Final for bronze

Round 1

1 Travis Smith (Canada)             11.346 (63.458km/h)
2 Matthew Crampton (England)        

Round 2

1 Travis Smith (Canada)             10.932 (65.862km/h)
2 Matthew Crampton (England)        

Final for gold

Round 1

1 Ryan Bayley (Australia)           11.273 (63.869km/h)
2 Ross Edgar (Scotland)             

Round 2

1 Ryan Bayley (Australia)           10.639
2 Ross Edgar (Scotland)       

Women's sprint finals

Final for bronze

Round 1

1 Kerrie Meares (Australia)         12.457 (57.799km/h)
2 Elisabeth Williams (New Zealand)  

Round 2

1 Kerrie Meares (Australia)         12.074 (59.632km/h)
2 Elisabeth Williams (New Zealand)  

Final for gold

Round 1

1 Victoria Pendleton (England)      11.822 (60.903km/h)
2 Anna Meares (Australia)           

Round 2

1 Anna Meares (Australia)           12.001 (59.995km/h)
2 Victoria Pendleton (England)      

Round 3

1 Victoria Pendleton (England)      12.216 (58.939km/h)
2 Anna Meares (Australia)           

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