The Australian Cycling Team has celebrated ten medals at the 2018 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Rio, fourth most by any nation behind Great Britain, Netherlands and China.
Highlighting the four days of competition for the green and gold was a world title defence by David Nicholas (QLD), and a world record and two medals to debutant Emily Petricola (VIC), plus dual silver to the Tandem pairing of Jessica Gallagher and Maddie Janssen.
The Championships also offered the first vital opportunity for nations to grab valuable qualification points towards Tokyo 2020, with the 16-rider Australian team featuring among 200 of the world’s best from 30 countries. Complete results.
Summary of medallists
Reigning Paralympic and world champion David Nicholas (QLD) surged to defend his C3 individual pursuit world title on the opening day, clocking the fastest time during Thursday afternoon’s qualifying (3:36.792).
Nicholas found two extra seconds in the tank in the evening’s final (3:34.804) to comfortably defeat Diederick Schelfhout (BEL) by over four seconds.
"It definitely feels amazing to defend my pursuit title, as it was the objective of the Championships. I am pretty happy with my results but there is always room for improvements so I will reflect when we get home and hopefully be stronger and faster next time," said Nicholas.
On her team debut on Thursday, Emily Petricola (VIC) powered to a time of 41.409secs to win bronze in the C4 women’s 500m time trial.
On Saturday, Petricola eclipsed the existing C4 individual pursuit world record in qualifying by two tenths of a second (3:54.501), before riding to take the silver medal. Teammate Meg Lemon (SA) won the bronze.
“I have been pleasantly surprised by my performance here, in particular grabbing bronze in the time trial,” said Petricola, who only began cycling a few months ago.
“I need to acknowledge the work of Cam Jennings who has moulded me into some resemblance of a track cyclist.
“Taking the world record in the individual pursuit was not in the plans, but a great bonus. My only possible improvement would have been gold in the event.”
Victorians Jessica Gallagher and Maddie Janssen claimed dual silver on the week in the Tandem time trial and sprint, with the pair recording a personal best in the flying 200m. Both Tandem events were won by multiple Paralympic and world champion Sophie Thornhill (GBR) and Pilot Helen Scott, including world records in both events.
Gallagher and Janssen will now head home to represent Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“We are really happy with our results and our two silver medals,” said Gallagher. “A personal best in our flying 200m and just outside our one kilometre time trial personal gives us great momentum as we head straight into GC2018.
“We have a few areas we can improve on & we are incredibly excited to head home and race on home soil.”
In all, Australia finished just off the top step in seven events with silver to Amanda Reid (NSW-C2) in the time trial, Kyle Bridgwood (QLD-C4) in the pursuit, and Alistair Donohoe (VIC-C5) and Darren Hicks (SA-C2) in their respective scratch races.
The team was also just off the podium in fourth on seven occasions through Darren Hicks (SA-C2), Simone Kennedy (NSW-C3) and Amanda Reid (NSW-C2) in the individual pursuit, and Kennedy and Kyle Bridgwood (QLD-C4) in the time trial.
In the men’s Tandem, Brad Henderson and Pilot Thomas Clarke finished fourth in both the time trial and sprint in their first Championships as a pairing. It took the might of multiple Paralympic and world champion Neil Fachie (GBR) and Pilot Matthew Rothertham to stop the pair’s run in the sprint semi final.
In other events, Alistair Donohoe (VIC) finished fifth in the C5 individual pursuit and eighth in the time trial, Lemon sixth in the time trial, and Reid fifth in the scratch race. Darcy Thompson (SA-C1) was eighth in the time trial and sixth in the individual pursuit, with Gordon Allan (NSW-C2) fifth in the time trial.
The Tandem pairing of Kieran Murphy and Pilot Lachlan Glasspool (SA) was seventh in the pursuit and in the time trial.
Day 4 Photos © Casey Gibson