Lauren Bates (ACT) has delivered Australia’s first gold medal at Trinbago 2023, blitzing the field in the women’s cycling time trial in the shadows of the iconic Brian Lara Stadium.
Bates took to the course at Trinidad’s home of cricket seventh before making light work of the field to pass three riders and deliver an overall time of 14:09.31 for first.
She will be joined on the podium by teammate Keira Will (NSW), the silver medallist in a time of 14:31.89 after taking to the course as the second rider from a field of sixteen.
“That course was good. It wasn’t my kind of course, I’m more of a hills fan, but I had a strong race and felt good out there,” Bates said.
“It was a bit windy, but we powered through. I had no idea what to expect from the competition, it’s my first big international race. They were tough.”
“To win Australia’s first gold is awesome. I’m sure there will be plenty more in the days ahead, but to stand on the podium will be pretty special. It will give me goosebumps. My parents are here, too, and they’re excited.”
“I really enjoyed that. There were a lot of strong girls out there, but I gave it everything in the hope that I could then bring it home,” Will added.
“The course had a couple of tight corners on it, so I hope our friend from Scotland is OK after her crash. Other than that, it was about maintaining momentum and being sensible on the hill, so you didn’t suffer later.”
Bates and Will will now recover from the hot and humid conditions, shifting their focus to the road race and track cycling here in Port of Spain before the UCI World Junior Track Cycling Championships in Cali, Colombia later this month.
“We’ve got the road race to come very soon, so I’m hoping for another good result. Lauren and I will look at our plan, suss out who we need to watch and go from there,” Will said.
““I’m just loving being here. We’ve haven’t had the chance to experience too much yet, but being surrounded by the teams from all the other countries is just great.”
Not to be outdone in the men’s race across 15-kilometres, Will Heath (Qld) has earned himself a bronze medal after three laps of the time trial course in a time of 19:35.24.
Heath arrives at Trinbago 2023 after an extended preparation in Belgium, where the 16-year-old spent one month training and racing alongside Australian teammates currently competing alongside all cycling disciplines in Glasgow, Scotland.
“It was so hot and sweaty out there. My heart rate was through the roof, but it was rewarding to come away with a medal after the pain you put yourself through,” Heath said.
“We’ve had so much fun. The Opening Ceremony was great, experiencing high performance alongside other countries. I’m keen to keep going from here.”
Sam McKee (TAS) joined Heath on course but tumbled at the turn after passing through 5-kilometres and did not finish. His focus now shifts to the road race.
The pair, who came together in Sydney prior to Australia’s departure for the Games, won the first set 21-13 and the second set 21-15, easily claiming the match.
“I’m stoked and very happy to get the win out of our first match,” Croft said.
“We’re feeling confident after today’s match and looking to further improve our game as that was our first ever match together, so it’s only up from here,” Rocker-Graham said.
A tight first set saw the two teams go point to point, before the Aussie duo pulled away to claim the second set in a dominant showing, finishing 21-8.
“It was pretty good to get out there and compete,” Zajer said.
“It took a while to get our get our feet and were a bit nervous at the start, but it was good to get the win today.”
With the beach volleyball competition running for the duration of the six days of competition, Trinbago has set the show with two new courts laid as part of the legacy of the Games.
“The crowd was very cool, and we loved the vibes… the arena is incredible and it’s a great set up,” Rayner said.
Both teams continue their campaign tomorrow, when the men take on Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the women face Rwanda.
In other sports, the rugby 7s open their campaign with two matches, the first against hosts Trinidad and Tobago while facing off against Canada later in the day.
Triathlon’s individual men’s and women’s races take place, while swimming dives into the pool with the first of their heats in the morning, and finals later in the day.