LONDON (AFP) – England’s Laura Kenny and Australian Matthew Glaetzer won Commonwealth Games gold medals on an emotion-packed final day at the track cycling on Monday (Aug 1).
Kenny, who has suffered a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy since competing at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, admitted she had thought it was “going to be my last race”. However, she re-focused and won the women’s 10-kilometre scratch on the same track where 10 years ago, aged 20, she won double Olympic gold.
Glaetzer battled back from thyroid cancer to compete at the Olympics but after some wretched luck in Birmingham – coming to grief in the keirin and then stripped of his bronze medal in the sprint on Sunday – he won the men’s 1,000m time trial.
New Zealand’s Ellesse Andrews won her third gold of the Games, landing the women’s keirin. Her compatriot, Aaron Gate, also won for the third time at the Games, taking gold in the men’s 40km points race.
Kenny – watched by husband, fellow cycling great Jason Kenny – whipped off her helmet and whirled her right hand in the air, pointing to the raucous crowd before dismounting and draping herself in the flag of St George.
It was a sharp contrast from her emotions in the lead-up to the race. Kenny, who has a young son, had taken bronze in the team pursuit and then finished 13th in the points race on Sunday. She admitted her confidence had been shaken by a horrific crash on that day that had resulted in her team-mate, Matt Walls, being taken to hospital.
Her race on Monday was also marred by a crash that led to Indian rider Meenakshi Meenakshi being stretchered off the track. “You see something like that (Walls going over the barrier into the crowd)… I was having a serious confidence crisis,” she told the BBC.
“I just didn’t want to be on the track and when that happens I race badly and I don’t get a result. “And that’s what happened. Whereas today I was so fired up. I kept saying to myself in the toilet, ‘I can do this’.”
Kenny, who secured England’s only track cycling gold at the Commonwealths, said she had told her husband on Sunday night the game was up. “I can’t believe it. Honestly, I said to Jase (Jason Kenny) ‘I think this is going to be my last race’,” she said. “I’ve lost the spark, training doesn’t come that easy. I have absolutely just lost motivation.
“Then last night I was messaging my new coach Len and I was like ‘No, I’m not giving up, I have one more roll of the dice, please just help me. “It could not have been better set up if I tried.”
Glaetzer had a beaming smile as he stood on the top step of the podium. The 29-year-old had soaked up the applause on his lap of honour, with an Australian flag tied around his neck, Superman style.