As Grace Brown prepared for the first leg of an Australian clean sweep Commonwealth Games Individual time trial, the upcoming task was brought into focus. England rider Hayley Simmonds, a Gold Coast bronze medalist four years ago who is now injured as a commentator, articulated the demands of the event perfectly.
“It’s called the race of truth,” Simmonds said on the BBC. “In the end it’s just you and the pain in your legs and thoughts in your head. You can’t hide behind your teammates. It’s literally the strongest driver who wins.”
Mid Thursday afternoon at a complex course in Black Country, Wolverhampton, the evidence was clear. Brown was by far the strongest woman. And Rohan Dennis, a two-time world champion in the discipline, eventually became Commonwealth Champion after setting a time of 46:21.20, his early strength and speed being crucial.
In both races, English drivers took second place. But that’s generous of silver medalists Anna Henderson and Fred Jones. In reality it was light behind the Australian champions. Both gold medalists had plenty of time to reflect on their thoughts in the final stages of the time trial.
Brown rode home more than 33 seconds ahead and Dennis slacked off late as he triumphed over a field that included 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Jones by just over 26 seconds.
While Australia’s netballers suffered a shock defeat to Jamaica On day seven of the Birmingham Games, Brown and Dennis rode superbly to justify their favoritism. Watching Brown, who finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics, roll out rival after rival on the track was like watching Pac-Man mow down the ghosts in a classic arcade game. The 30-year-old chewed them up and charged on to pursue the next target en route to a victorious 40:05.20 ride over the twisty, hilly and tactically complex 28.8km course.
“The team didn’t tell me I was ahead until the last five kilometers, so I assumed no news was good news,” she said.
Brown got into cycling later than most. Raised in the Victorian town of Camperdown, gateway to the Otway Ranges and the Great Ocean Road, she went to boarding school in the Big Smoke as a teenager.
In Melbourne she was an outstanding athlete. Long distances were their goal. She was fast enough to compete at the national level, but her body wasn’t built for the rigors of long-distance running, ultimately frustrating with small things and injuries.
But her discipline in training, combined with the independence she gained from leaving home early, served Brown well when she got on a bike in her early 20s. She drew fans in with her aggressive, offensive driving and the pro-level victories began to flow. The Australian has become such a strong rider that Brown was the clear choice to win here.
Long before she crossed the finish line, it was clear that the pre-race favorite was driving extremely well. As she later said, she could do what was expected of her. “I had the target on my back. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself to be the favourite, just stay calm and focus on what I had to do,” she said.
Dennis took a silver medal at the Glasgow event in 2014, a year in which he won the first of two consecutive World Team Time Trial Championships. With successes in Innsbruck and Yorkshire in 2018 and 2019, he added individual achievements to his remarkable resume. Last year he won bronze in Tokyo. But he wanted to be alone on the podium at big games with a gold medal. Desperate.
“I’ve finally reached the top step. It is occupied [me] 12 years since Delhi. The Olympics was my first individual Olympics medal, so it’s hard to beat,” he said. “But it’s a different feeling to be on that top step. It’s a little hard to compare. It’s special one way or the other.”
At Alexander Stadium, para-wheelchair star Madison de Rozario clinched a second gold medal of the Games when she added the T54 1500m to her marathon success last week in a thrilling race.
The 28-year-old, who also completed the double on the Gold Coast four years ago, fended off compatriot Angie Ballard in a tactical race to become the first Australian para-athlete to win four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.
Australian world champion Eleanor Patterson and her compatriot Nicola Olyslagers qualified for Saturday’s final with their first jump of 1.81m. Oliver Hoare also qualified fastest for the morning men’s 1500m final with a time of 3:37.57.
However, there was disappointment for Stewart McSweyn, who was unable to start after suffering from flu. Fellow Australians Kathryn Mitchell and Ash Moloney have also been forced to withdraw through illness, although Kelsey-Lee Barber has been cleared to compete after recovering from Covid-19.
Sarah Edminston won a silver medal in the women’s F44 discus, continuing her strong run in international events since 2017.
Elsewhere, Chinese-born diver Shixin Li scooped a silver medal behind Jack Laugher, the flag bearer of the English Commonwealth Games in an outstanding performance in the 1m springboard. The 34-year-old recorded a total score of 437.05 points, 10 points behind the three-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist.
Australia’s Grace Brown and Rohan Dennis complete the 2022 Commonwealth Cycling Commonwealth Games
Source link Australia’s Grace Brown and Rohan Dennis complete the 2022 Commonwealth Cycling Commonwealth Games