Gallagher and Ward strike double gold


Ian Chadband / AAP News

Australia’s great Paralympian Jess Gallagher has added another title to her amazing CV after sealing a track cycling golden double at the Commonwealth Games with her pilot Caitlin Ward.

Their triumph in the tandem B time trial, for blind and visually impaired cyclists with a sighted pilot, came on a day when serious questions were being asked over rider and spectator safety after a shocking crash at the Lee Valley velodrome on Sunday.

The morning session had to be concluded early after English Olympic champ Matt Walls was taken to hospital after being catapulted over the barriers and into the crowd in a multi-rider pile-up in the final lap of the Commonwealth Games 15km scratch race qualifier.

Isle of Man cyclist Matt Bostock also went to the hospital, while two spectators were treated before organisers decided to call off the rest of the program with the end of the session approaching.

When the afternoon session began belatedly, Gallagher and Ward, already crowned sprint tandem B champions on the opening day of the program, added the 1000m time trial title in emphatic style.

And their fellow Australian para-cycling duo, Beau Wootton and sighted pilot Luke Zaccaria, then landed the bronze in the tandem B sprint, defeating Welsh pair Alex Pope and Lloyd Steffan.

Last to go in the time trial, Gallagher and Ward powered round the four laps in 1 minute 07.138 seconds, finishing 0.416 sec clear of Sophie Unwin, the Englishwoman who had been left distraught after she was denied a bronze medal in the sprint because there weren’t enough competitors in the race.

Just before the morning mayhem, Matt Glaetzer had launched another potentially remarkable comeback act.

Australia’s top track sprinter qualified for the semi-finals of the sprint, the morning after his own shocking crash in the keirin at the Olympic velodrome where he competed at the 2012 Games.

There had been fears the Games might be over for Glaetzer after the high-speed crash in Saturday’s second round heat, which also ended with his English rival Joe Truman being sent to hospital with a suspected broken collar bone.

But Australian team doctors monitored Glaetzer’s condition overnight after the 70km-per-hour spill and announced less than two hours before start time that he’d been given the all-clear to seek his fifth Games gold medal.

The indomitable 29-year-old, who’d been left battered, bruised and with his kit shredded on Saturday, showed only one sign of the accident on his return – a large plaster covering the abrasions on his right calf.

But there appeared absolutely no ill effects in the saddle as Glaetzer eased through his qualifying solo ride as fourth fastest, even able to effectively pull up at the finish while clocking 9.652 seconds over the final 250 metres.

In his last-16 dice with India’s Ronaldo Laitonjam, Glaetzer controlled the one-off race from the front to win almost as he pleased and then controlled his impressive Australian teammate Tom Cornish from the front with two comfortable quarter-final wins.

He set up a best-of-three race semi-final against Trinidad’s newly-crowned keirin champion Nicholas Paul, with the final to be held later on Sunday.

The other Australian, Matt Richardson, also made the semis after being forced because of the crash to tackle his deciding quarter-final race with Malaysian Shah Sahrom at the start of the rescheduled afternoon session.

Glaetzer was again demonstrating the courage and resilience that have helped him battle back in the past two years from various setbacks, including thyroid cancer and serious injuries.



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