A golden Sunday: Australia dominates Day 3 of Birmingham 2022


Australia has dominated Day 3 of the Birmingham 2022 track cycling, winning four gold and a bronze on an evening to remember for the green and gold.

All four gold medal winning moments were emotional triumphs of the highest order at London's Lee Valley VeloPark, from the double-gold revival journey of Jessica Gallagher and pilot Caitlin Ward, to the never say die backstory and determination of Kristina Clonan's 500m time trial victory.

However, it was the final gold medal winning sprint performance of young gun Matthew Richardson that truly tipped the scales from Sunday being a great day to an awe-inspiring one.

The 23-year-old saved his best for last in the gold medal final versus Trinidad and Tobago's Nicholas Paul, executing a tactical masterclass to become the first Australian to win the men's sprint since Shane Perkins at Delhi 2010.

What followed was an immediate eruption of disbelief and elation from Richardson, who shed tears as he hugged his mother in the crowd while draped in an Australian flag.

"Sprint days are always a really long day and the emotions just build and build and build," Richardson said.

"When you finally come across the line and no one else is before you - it just explodes, it always happens.

"There's no controlling it really."

The way in which Richardson dispatched of Paul in the gold medal duel was a level above what he had shown on the boards through earlier rounds, especially after he looked to be closing in on an empty tank of gas during his three-race quarter-final matchup with Malaysian Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom.

However, the Western Australian dug deep, and after edging past Scotland's Jack Carlin in another three-race semi-final seemed to enter a flow state of confidence, speed and decision making.

"Nicholas is a very good back rider, he's absolutely exceptional - he was going to be really hard to beat," Richardson said.

"I kind of had to change the way I normally ride ... and my legs were definitely suffering a little bit.

"(I) just had to ride tactically well and put him under pressure."

Despite the celebrative mood in the Australian camp there was a sour ending to the night for Matthew Glaetzer, who after having believed he had secured a bronze medal was controversially relegated by the commissaires for moving down towards the inside of the track when his opponent, Carlin, was already there.

Richardson said he felt "really bad for Matty" when asked for his opinion.

"He was riding really well today but obviously because of the crash yesterday he's had to patch himself up and he's come out today and put his heart on the line," Richardson said.

"So I really do feel for Matty."

Clonan breaks Meares' Commonwealth Games record to clinch 500m TT gold

Kristina Clonan's 500m time trial success story in 2022 continues at Birmingham 2022, edging out Canadian Kelsey Mitchell by 0.060 seconds to claim the first Commonwealth Games medal of her career.

Clonan entered the event as the red-hot favourite following three impressive results already this year and started last as a result of her top ranking.

The Queenslander started fast and faded slightly over the 500m but held on by the skin of her teeth to knock over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games sprint champion.

The time of 33.234 was far from the 24-year-old's personal best but was enough to get the job done, which Clonan noted with a sense of relief.

"The time wasn't quite there today but it was what won it today, so I'll take that," Clonan said.

"I had my eyes on this for a little while ... and she (Mitchell) pushed me today. I'm stoked to be amongst good company.

"It's great to have a good line-up and girls that are competitive because it makes good racing."

Clonan's performance further solidifies her presence as Australia's top sprinting hope for the foreseeable future, a notion that seemed inconceivable a few years ago when she was fighting for selection on women's endurance squads.

"It's been a long hustle," Clonan said.

"Missing out on (Gold Coast) 2018 and then missing out on the (2020) Olympics, I was like 'right, what am I doing?'

"So, it's been a solid full year of hustling to get here and I'm stoked that it's paying off finally."

'It was a bit of a blur': Baker cooks Birmingham points race field

It's a wonderful sight to see a rider at full flight in a points race, and that's exactly what the Lee Valley VeloPark crowd were treated to from Georgia Baker on Sunday.

The Tasmanian's commanding performance was too much to handle for her rivals, winning gold by 19 points ahead of Scotland's Neah Evans at the end of the 100 laps.

Baker's points race showing could very well be the most controlling win of the Games when all is said and done at the end of tomorrow, such is the puppeteer effect she had over the rest of the field with the aid of Australian teammates Chloe Moran and Maeve Plouffe.

The Team BikeExchange-Jayco road professional contested and picked up points at seven out of the 10 sprints, including winning the final battle for the line from a select group of four to place an extra stamp of authority on the victory.

"It means so much to come away with the gold," Baker said.

"This gold is just as much theirs (Moran and Plouffe) as it is mine - we worked as a team.

"We had a plan for me and Chloe to get the points and we made sure we were both up there.

"We were calm, we didn’t feel out of control and I felt controlled in the race.

"It was a bit of a blur ... I wanted to execute it for Australia.

"In 2018, my role was more to help Alex Manly and this year was my time and it was great to do it justice."

Gallagher and Ward end Birmingham 2022 on the highest of highs

Jessica Gallagher has added yet another chapter to her extensive para-sport career, winning her second Commonwealth Games gold medal of the week in the Tandem B 1000m time trial with pilot Caitlin Ward.

Gallagher and Ward led from start to the finish as the last team out of the gate, finishing with a time of 1:07.138 to win by 0.416 seconds.

"The kilo is brutal as an event, you've really got to go in with a healthy respect and fear," Gallagher said.

"It's pretty terrifying because it's just brutal.

"We knew it was going to be tight - we haven't done a lot of kilos so it was really about digging deep and just leaving everything out on that track and we did that so it was amazing.

"We weren't really sure where we would be, we haven't done a kilo for a few months so to pull that time is incredible and to cap it off with a gold is more than we could ever imagine."

The joy of the win overcame Ward during a post-race interview to Birmingham 2022 broadcaster Channel 7, with the former Australian Cycling Team sprinter detailing the personal significance of the success.

"I can't even put into words what this means to me - it's an absolute dream ... I could have never imagined being selected to the Commonwealth Games this year, let alone to come away with two medals," Ward said.

"It's just the most emotional rollercoaster ... it's just amazing."

The gold medal is the end of their Birmingham 2022 chapter, one which began eight months ago when Gallagher envisioned a return to para-cycling.

"It was a dream, I rang up the Australian Cycling Team para-cycling coach having not been on the tandem for the past three years because I'd moved to rowing," Gallagher said.

"I have AusCycling and Rowing Australia to thank, particularly Warren McDonald and Gordon Marcks, the respective para coaches.

"They believed in me when I said I wanted to represent Australia at two sports this year and when Warren came back and said that Caity had put her hand and would love to pilot I couldn't have asked for more.

"I just knew as soon as he said who the pilot was going to be that I was in for a special journey.

"She's given it everything and I've known Caity since she was a young junior, we've both had different journeys, our own challenges and I couldn't ask for more to be with her here today - there isn't anyone with more heart than she has, so, to come away with two gold medals she deserves it more than anyone and I'm very grateful to be here with her."

Australia's male tandem pairing of Beau Wootton and pilot Luke Zaccaria also ended their Birmingham 2022 experience in nearly the best way possible after winning bronze in the sprint.

Buoyed by just missing the medals 48 hours earlier in the 1000m time trial, Wootton and Zaccaria rode an inspired bronze medal final to defeat Wales.

Main picture: Guy Swarbrick
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