Aussies dominate velodrome on opening night

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Australia have picked up half of the six gold medals on offer on the opening day of track cycling at the Commonwealth Games.

The men’s 4000m team pursuit won gold for Australia in a new World Record time in front of an electric crowd at the Anna Meares Velodrome.

Earlier in the day, the quarter of Alex Porter, Jordan Kerby, Leigh Howard and Sam Welsford qualified fastest in 3mins 52.041. A tactical move from the team saw teenager Kelland O’Brien come in for Kerby, with the team scorching the track in a World Record time of 3 minutes 49.804 seconds, shaving nearly half a second off the record which Great Britain set in Rio two years ago.

“I’m over the moon with excitement. We’re in our home country. That is what dreams are made of. This is what we strive for every day,” Welsford said after the blistering ride.

“This is a dream come true. We’ve had our eye on the medal for such a long time, and to go under 3.50 – for that to happen is unreal,” he added.

The talent-stacked women’s team pursuit made a statement with a dominant gold medal performance against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand.  Ashlee Ankudinoff, Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson and Alexandra Manly clocked four minutes 15.214 seconds in the final to beat the Kiwis by nearly 10 seconds.

Speaking after the race, Tasmanian  Cure said,

“It was amazing, so good to win but it’s not just us four girls who ride the bike, it’s Georgia Baker, Rebecca Wiasak who made the journey over here and didn’t get a ride but have been pushing us at training every day to perform.”

“We owe it to them as much as we won there and to all the people who help us,” she added.

Speedsters Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton thrashed the New Zealand pair of Natasha Hansen and Emma Cumming in the women’s team sprint to win gold. With her former teammate Anna Meares watching on, McCulloch powered away on the last lap to win in a new Commonwealth Games and national record time of 32.488 seconds.

Australia also picked up a bronze medal in the men’s team sprint and the tandem pairing of Brad Henderson and pilot Tom Clarke won a bronze in the B&VI 1000m time trial, Australia’s first Para medal of the 2018 Games.

“We were a bit disappointed about the fourth place in the UCI Rio Paracycling Track World Championships, so to come out here and show them what we were capable of, was exciting,” Henderson said.

Four gold medals will be on offer on day two of the track cycling competition at the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane.

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