2018 has been stellar to date for Sydney's Kaarle McCulloch with dual Commonwealth Games gold, plus silver and bronze, a thirteenth national title, and a host of new personal best times across the boards.
On the eve of her departure to July's Japan Track Cup, McCulloch chatted with us about her memorable week at the Games, hitting the mountain bike trails, partnering with Steph Morton and the fire that burns for a second Olympic Games appearance.
"I guess the thing that stands out the most that most people never realise is how nervous I was ALL day."
GOLD COAST GOLD: What a week for at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with four podiums from four events including individual & team gold!
I’ve dreamt my entire career to stand on top of the podium on my own at an event like the Commonwealth Games. I love the team sprint and it holds something very special to me, but to win the time trial and to be able to say I did that all on my own was very special.
The thing that stands out the most that most people never realise is how nervous I was ALL day. I really sincerely believe that if you’re not nervous you can’t do exceptional things and I was able to turn all those nerves into something really special.
I had already raced the event in my mind so many times before without outcome and so the ride itself was one of those ‘dream moments’ that you don’t get very often in your career. I can really only say I have had that kind of moment three or so times my career and they have mostly all come at critical times like in 2009 when Anna and I won our first World Title together.
When I crossed the line and saw 33.5, I was so happy because my goal was to ride 33.5. Also, when I saw Steph rode 33.6 I was so happy for her because that was a huge PB for her but I also knew that if I nailed it that I was capable of winning.
Some of the memorable moments of that night were when Steph came to congratulate me, I felt an honest and genuine connection with her in that moment and I think it speaks loads about our camaraderie. I was also able to go and hug my family who has known my aspirations and I really felt like they won that night.
"It has been a hard slog since getting back into it, as all offseason training is especially in the cold, but its the necessary evil of what we do, you have to hurt if you want to win."
VETERAN MOVE: When taking a post-Games break means hopping on a mountain bike!
I have learnt that it is so important to take a proper break after big events. As a team, we were allowed two weeks off at Gold Coast 2018- which included the second week in the Games Village after our racing finished and isn’t much of a break!
So when we were told to get back into some easy work two weeks after, I wasn’t quite ready and instead I let myself be inspired to get back on again. This didn’t take long though because…I bought a mountain bike! I have since been thoroughly enjoying being truly out with nature and just doing something so different.
I was able to spend time with my family and my boyfriend and I felt like my batteries were recharged when I did go back to Adelaide four weeks after the games. Since then its been a hard slog as all offseason training is, especially in the cold but its the necessary evil of what we do, you have to hurt if you want to win.
"I have been able to watch Steph grow every year and that makes me glad she is on my team and no one else’s!"
NEW PARTNERSHIP: McCulloch, a three-time team sprint world champion & 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, is firing with new partner Steph Morton.
I am really so excited for the Team Sprint! Steph and I have already been a force to be reckoned with but in all honesty, we haven’t really spent that much time working together. So now that I have moved to Adelaide I feel like we can go a step further in our partnership.
I am also just so proud of Steph. When she first came into this program in 2013, she was so raw and didn’t realise her talent. But I see her grow every year and she is starting to believe in her potential and I guess that makes me glad she is on my team and no one else’s!
But I think for myself also I just see improvement every day and I am glad I got through the rough times I went through because I feel like I am on the other side now and really pushing that last bit up to the summit of Mount Everest.
"It is a scary prospect of what it will take to win, but then you see the plan and the steps to get there you start to realise that it is very possible."
NO STONE UNTURNED: McCulloch knows what it will take to get to Tokyo 2020.
Tokyo is my big goal. The Commonwealth Games gave me the realisation that the sky is the limit. I feel such potential and energy, like when I was preparing for the London Olympics when I super focused and really balanced in all aspects of my life.
I also have a plan now through to Tokyo as set by my support team down in Adelaide, and when you can see your plan it is a scary prospect of what it will take to win, but then you see there are steps to get there, you start to realise that it is very possible.
I know what it takes to win, I know what it feels like to step out on to an Olympic Velodrome and I have been the best in the world.
So for me really it is about enjoying the next 766 days, working hard, believing in my plan and my team and building on the momentum that Steph and I have and putting that into a result on race day.
Kaarle will race the Japan Cup in July before heading back to Australia for Adelaide’s Oceania Championship in October and the 2018/19 World Cup season.
Photos © Tim Bardsley-Smith / Casey Gibson
Just seven weeks after Steele von Hoff broke four vertebrae in a high-speed racing crash, cycling’s ‘Man of Steele’ has produced a superhuman performance to win the GC2018 men’s road race.
Wearing the green and gold at his first major Games at the age of 30, Von Hoff won a mass sprint to the finish of the 168.3km race at Currumbin Beachfront and teammate Cameron Meyer chased down the leaders over the final 10km. Welshman Jonathan Mould won silver, with South African Clint Hendricks, took the bronze.
The entire Australia team of Von Hoff, Meyer, Matthew Hayman and workhorse Callum Scotson produced a herculean effort to set up Steele’s triumph.
Von Hoff said after the race; “I was so close to not making the cut, there were lots of people checking up on me and Cycling Australia checking up on me after my rehab, it was so good to have all that support.
“I don’t think I’ve absorbed it yet, but I will later on tonight.”
Team mate and GC2018 time trial gold medallist Cameron Meyer finished inside the top 10 in ninth place and was thrilled with the team’s performance to get Steele across the line in pole position;
“It was exactly the tactics we said. We had Steele for the sprint and me for the last lap. Matty (Hayman) set the tempo for me to attack. It’s really clicking.”
“There was pressure – the girls won this morning!” added Meyer.
The Australian women’s team executed their pre-race plan to perfection, with favourite Chloe Hosking taking gold in a bunch sprint to end the 112km women's road race on Sunday.
A field of 49 set out for six laps of the 18km picturesque course which began just after sunrise at the Currumbin Beachfront.
Australia’s six-rider team of Hosking, Kat Garfoot, Sarah Roy, Shannon Malseed, Gracie Elvin and Tiffany Cromwell drove the pace at the front of the peloton for much of the first half of the race, with a solid effort from Malseed and Elvin to ensure Hosking was protected in the bunch.
In a nail biting final lap, the Australians held off several challenges, with Cromwell, Garfoot and Roy delivering Hosking in a clinical lead out to the line, which saw Hosking sweep past the front pack and to gold.
Georgia Williams of New Zealand and Welsh rider Danielle Rowe completed the podium, with Roy and Cromwell in fifth and sixth respectively.
Hosking had to fight back tears after crossing the line, and credited her five teammates for helping set up her triumph.
"I wish all six girls could have it (gold) on their CV, road cycling is such a cruel sport in that sense and I wouldn't have won today without those girls and I'm so grateful," she said.
The 27-year-old, who placed third in the road race at the 2010 Delhi Games and overcame a serious crash during a race in Europe just two weeks ago, said pride and relief were her over-riding emotions,
"It's so special to win on home soil. People say for road cycling Commonwealth Games isn't that big a deal but you know what? I'm Commonwealth Games champion and it's a big deal.
"I'm so happy and really proud of myself."
WOMEN’S TIME TRIAL
Gold Coast local Katrin Garfoot obliterated the field to win gold in the GC2018 women’s individual time trial, an upgrade from her bronze at the Glasgow Games four years ago.
Garfoot, the heavy hometown favourite, was a class above in the women's event, which was 13km shorter than the men's, coming in at a distance of 25.5km, and included an 800m steep section known as "the beast" en route to the finish line.
Leading at every checkpoint, Garfoot eventually stopped the clock at 35:08.09, almost one minute ahead of silver medallist and defending champion Linda Villumsen of New Zealand, while Scotland's Katie Archibald was fourth.
"I knew I needed to go out hard. I was scared I was going to go too hard. I know the road, I know the lines, I know everything, but it doesn't protect you from the pain.
"It was really exciting to be in front of a home crowd with all my friends and family watching. I've worked hard, and for it to come together for a gold medal is just extraordinary. It has never worked (out) like this before."
Both Meyer and Garfoot will be aiming for a GC2018 golden double when they contest the Road Race on Saturday.
MEN’S TIME TRIAL
Meyer delivered Australian cycling’s 11th gold medal of the Games in a dominating win in the men’s time trial.
In hot conditions, Meyer conquered the tricky course in 48 minutes 13.04 seconds to chase down the morning's previous-best time set by New Zealand's two-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Hamish Bond.
The versatile cyclist, who finished fourth in the points race the track on Sunday, mastered the two steep climbs and avoided any drama over the tough 38.5km Currumbin course, while lady luck cruelled the hopes of teammate Callum Scotson who finished in fourth.
Speaking after his gold medal ride, Meyer said, "It's been a while since I've done a time trial and I broke my collarbone in the last one I did, so luckily I stayed upright this time and I couldn't be more thrilled than I am today.
“I've got to thank all the stuff who got behind me and prepared me for
today, they did everything right and my coach Tim Decker who said
'give it a crack'."
"It was only two weeks ago that we decided, it was Tim Decker who knew I had good aerobic form and I was concentrating on the points race which is a 45-minute effort and today is roughly the same," Meyer said.
"And he said 'Cam I reckon you could have a crack in the time trial', and I said 'why not? Let's have a go'. We scrambled a bike together, did my measurements and I had nothing to lose and somehow it paid off."
It was a devastating start for Scotson as he suffered a rear wheel puncture just five minutes into his ride, losing 30 seconds and valuable momentum with the swift wheel change, eventually finishing in 49mins 35.65secs.
“It wasn’t to plan, little my own fault, I didn’t nail the line on the corner and went near the barrier and to the stones. I heard the puncture, but you have to not panic in that situation, you know you’ve lost time, but you had to treat it like it hadn’t happened til it finished.”
“Nothing I would change apart from the puncture, it is a really fast course, I had fun out there.”
Australia finished the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games track cycling competition with 19 medals overall; 10 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze.
GC2018 Australian Medal Tally
Women’s Team Pursuit – Annette EDMONDSON, Amy CURE, Alex MANLY, Ashlee ANKUDINOFF
Men’s Team Pursuit – Kell O’BRIEN, Leigh HOWARD, Alex PORTER, Sam WELSFORD and Jordan KERBY
Men’s Keirin - Matt GLAETZER
Women’s Sprint - Stephanie MORTON
Women’s Team Sprint - Kaarle McCULLOCH & Stephanie MORTON
Women's 500m Time Trial - Kaarle MCCULLOCH
Men's 15km Scratch Race - Sam WELSFORD
Men’s 1000m Time Trial – Matthew GLAETZER
Women’s Keirin – Steph MORTON
Women’s 10km Scratch Race – Amy CURE
Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit - Rebecca WIASAK
Women's 500m Time Trial - Stephanie MORTON
Women’s Keirin - Kaarle MCCULLOCH
Men's B&VI Sprint - Brad HENDERSON, Tom CLARKE (pilot)
Men's B&VI 1000m time trial Brad Henderson, Tom CLARKE (pilot)
Men’s team sprint - Patrick CONSTABLE, Nathan HART and Matt GLAETZER
Men's Sprint - Jacob SCHMID
Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit - Annette EDMONDSON
Women's Sprint - Kaarle MCCULLOCH
Sprint King Matthew Glaetzer finished his heavy Commonwealth campaign with victory in the 1000m time trial.
Glaetzer, who twenty four hours earlier was upset in the men’s sprint rounds, achieved redemption in emphatic fashion, clocking the fastest time ever ridden at sea level, 59.340s.
As the last man to ride, Glaetzer knew he had to beat New Zealander Edward Dawkins's time of 59.928 seconds to take gold. He burst out of the blocks and vaulted himself to maximum speed, crossing the line in a blistering 59.340s.
"It was big today ... after a shocking day yesterday," Glaetzer said.
"I had to regroup, sometimes things don't go the way you plan them. This is really good to come back and prove to yourself that you can do it, get one up for Australia, because I owed them one for yesterday, so I am over the moon.”
Glaetzer finishes the Games with two gold in the 1km TT and keirin, and one bronze in the team sprint.
Para-cyclist Bradley Henderson and Pilot Thomas Clarke picked up the bronze medal in the men’s Tandem Sprint, their second bronze of the game.
Jessica Gallagher and pilot Maddison Janssen finished second in the women's Tandem 1 B&VI 1000m time trial.
Australia won bronze in the men's sprint through Victoria's Games debutant Jacob Schmid who celebrated his second Games medal after winning bronze in the team event on Thursday with Matthew Glaetzer, Patrick Constable and Nathan Hart.
Schmid was too good for Malaysia's Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom in the bronze final, after Sahrom upsetting reigning world champion Matthew Glaetzer in the round of 16 in the afternoon session.
"You can't top a home crowd and being able to pull this off after the year I've had, and last couple of years, I'm really excited and really happy,” Schmid said. "I had a crash a few weeks ago and wasn't even able to ride a bike, so I'm just stoked to come out and do this. For about a couple of hours (I wasn't sure I'd make it to the Gold Coast) but everyone rallied behind me and we got through it.
"My wife was putting her head in her hands every time I was racing, it's stressful watching just as much as doing it some times.
"We spoke very briefly, love yous, good luck, stuff like that, the biggest pressure you can put is on yourself."
World Champion Glaetzer devastatingly crashed out in the preliminary rounds after a tactical blunder against the 16th seed from Malaysia – he was completely caught off guard when the Malaysian attacked and roared away for a stunning upset.
"The sprint is the big one and it was always going to be tough backing up last night but it was just a tactical mistake.”
"I knew I'd stuffed up and I'll just take a moment to be disappointed and then re-group again ready for tomorrow, I won't leave anything in the tank," Glaetzer said.
In one of the most amazing rides ever seen on a track, let alone the Commonwealth Games, Sam Welsford lifted the roof at the Anna Meares Velodrome with gold in the men's scratch race.
Teammates Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard covered constant attacks and reeled in England’s Ethan Hayter on the final lap, leaving Welsford to time his final lap sprint to perfection.
The win was Welsford's second of the Games after teaming to clock the first sub 3:50 ride in history in the team pursuit with Leigh Howard, Kelland O'Brien and Alex Porter.
In a superb week for Welsford, he also clocked a stunning 4min 13.595sec individual pursuit ride on Friday which was fifth fastest in what was one of the fastest IP events in history.
“That was such a hard race, it was on from the start and I had to be patient and my teammates are amazing,” Welsford said.
“Cam Meyer and Leigh Howard, hats off to them, they were in every move and looked after me all race. I think Australia, the whole team is so tight nit and it’s showing in the results this week.
“Coming into the last lap my visor was falling off and I was mid-sprint so didn’t want to adjust it, and it fell off in the last couple of minutes anyway.
“I’m over the moon, my second goal and this race is such a lottery, 60 laps and lucky enough I caught him last lap.”
Sydney's Kaarle McCulloch celebrated atop the podium with a brilliant Commonwealth Games gold medal in the women's time trial.
McCulloch snatched the gold just 0.036 ahead of teammate Stephanie Morton in a blistering women’s 500m time trial at the Anna Meares velodrome.
Morton looked odds-on to claim her third GC2018 gold medal before McCulloch took top spot in a personal best time of 33.583.
“Anna Meares pulled me aside and said only a Meares girl has won this title. I want a McCulloch to win,” said McCulloch, who won silver eight years ago in Delhi 2010.
“I feel like I’ve done it justice. I got into this sport because of her. To take that title tonight on her track is dream come true after winning her first individual Commonwealth gold and Australia’s fifth consecutive 500m sprint title."
Morton also smashed her PB by nearly half-a-second with her first career sub-34 second ride (33.619), but it wasn’t enough to deny McCulloch.
"I knew she was going to pull out a big time and if you're going to get rolled by anyone it's (good) that it's your own and it's really great that we got on the top step together, and it happened in Glasgow where Anna and I went one, two."
Commonwealth Games debutant Rebecca Wiasak won silver in the women’s individual pursuit, finishing behind 2016 Olympic team pursuit champion Katie Archibald from Scotland. Annette Edmondson took the bronze.
Wiasak wowed the crowd in the afternoon qualifying with a Games record (3:25.936), which also eclipsed her own national record. However Archibald eclipsed that mark in the very next ride.
In the final, Archibald looked strong early, before Wiasak took the lead and a .3sec advantage at the halfway mark. However Archibald fought back and stopped the clock at 3mins 26.088secs ahead of Wiasak (3:27.548).
I went hard. I used all my energy and enthusiasm. I'm happy to finish both races. I'm as thrilled today with a silver as I would be with a gold.
I knew it was going to be a tough ask coming up against Katie Archibald, she's such a classy rider and you're stoked to make the final and you definitely have to stay confident that I could take it to her in the final.
I'm really happy to finish off both my rides really strongly.
It was bitterly disappointing to miss out on the team pursuit but you have to draw strength and inspiration from those rides," Wiasak said.
Watching it in bed last night trying to rest up for today, I was so emotional for the girls, you were in tears seeing them on the podium knowing that could have been you.
But I've been in that position so many times - the final rider cut - so when I was just sitting and waiting for today to jump up on the track I said to myself 'you've been waiting so long for this moment'.
I was the last rider cut for Glasgow and the fastest individual pursuiter at that point that season, and the last rider cut for Rio so I had to sit at home and watch as the non-travelling reserve so I know disappointment but it's continued to drive me and use that fire in the belly to keep me going and get me on this track.
Bronze - NETTIE Edmondson
In an all Aussie affair, Annette Edmondson held off a late surge from reigning national champion Ashlee Ankudinoff to win bronze. Earlier in the day, Edmondson set a Games record and personal best in qualifying (3:27.255) before it was broken by Wiasak and then Archibald.
"I'm satisfied, I wasn't sure what to expect going in after yesterday, it was pretty solid on the legs but I had to go out there and focus and luckily I could pull out a PB.
"It was really tough in the final because you're up against your teammate and you really want to make it on the podium but at the same time one of your teammates doesn't get to come home with a medal, so it was hard but I am satisfied with the time I was able to ride.
"We've put our heart and soul into it the last few years and it just comes down to the day and who has the right prep or who believes in themselves more on the night, and sometimes there's a bit of luck involved."
In the electric Anna Meares Velodrome, sprint World Champion Matthew Glaetzer lifted the roof at the end of the night by defending his Commonwealth keirin title, also capturing Australia’s fifth cycling gold of the Games.
The 25-year-old, who took bronze in the team sprint on the opening day, beat Welshman Lewis Oliva and New Zealand’s Edward Dawkins to the finish line with a barnstorming ride in the final.
It was a perfect day for Glaetzer as he stormed to three wins in the keirin competition in sizzling fashion in front of the huge crowd.
It is massive because I was reigning Champion – there’s a lot of pressure and you can feel that expectation – It’s about trying to be ice man, be clinical and when it happens it just comes in rush, and the Aussie crowd just goes nuts.
Yesterday didn't go to plan, I burnt myself out a bit too much (in the team sprint). Today I just had to reset, get the emotions out and push myself.
Those races aren't easy but you're in a position that people envy so I can't complain, just loving the fact I got to win it again and share it with this home crowd.
We as athletes aren't doing it for ourselves, we're doing it for the nation. We don't get it (home crowd) too often, so it's absolutely sensational when that flag is raised and the whole nation is behind you.
South Australia's Stephanie Morton gave Australia its 100th gold in Commonwealth Games cycling after winning the women's sprint over New Zealand’s Natasha Hansen, with Sydney's Kaarle McCulloch taking the bronze.
In the afternoon's qualifying, Morton scorched the Anna Meares Velodrome track with a Games Record and personal best 10.524secs to sit atop qualifying. McCulloch clocked her own career best time in fourth with 10.777secs.
The pair eased their way through to the semi finals which disappointingly for fans saw them pitted against each other for a place in the gold medal final. There, Morton was too good for her room mate and team mate in straight heats.
In the final, Hansen attempted mind games from behind in both sprints, thrusting and dodging to try to knock Morton off her perch. But Morton was impassable, storming home in the second sprint to defend her Commonwealth title in front of a surging crowd.
It took me by complete surprise when I beat Anna Meares in Glasgow (individual sprint at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games) - and now to be in the Anna Meares Velodrome is very special
After Glasgow, I came into the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games with expectations, and reminisced on what it means to win a gold medal - it's been very special.
It is an honour to receive the 100th gold medal for Australia in cycling. This is testament to the great Australian cycling program.
Bronze - McCulloch
Women's TANDEM SPRINT
Victoria's Jessica Gallagher and Pilo Maddison Janssen opened the Games with an incredible time in the Tandem women's sprint flying 200m.
The first Aussies to hit the Anna Meares Velodrome for the Games, they blasted a 10.954 in front of an electric home crowd.
The English pairing of Thornhill and Scott however eclipsed this mark in the next ride, with the duo edging the Australians in the final to take the gold.
Men's Tandem Time Trial
Australia also picked up a bronze medal in the men’s team sprint and the tandem pairing of Brad Henderson and pilot Tom Clarke won a bronze in the B&VI 1000m time trial, Australia’s first Para medal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“We were a bit disappointed about the fourth place in the UCI Rio Para-cycling Track World Championships, so to come out here and show them what we were capable of, was exciting,” Henderson said.
Women's team sprint
Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton powered over the New Zealand pair of Natasha Hansen and Emma Cumming in the women’s team sprint final to win gold.
With former teammate Anna Meares watching on, the duo powered in qualifying to take the mental advantage into the final, which saw them ride the wave of parochial Aussie support as they clocked a new Commonwealth Games and national record time of 32.488 seconds.
More: Watch live via 7commgames.com.au | Visit gc2018.com for all the event information.
Can’t complain with a casual Aussie record but we’re stoked, that’s what we came here for — to smash our own record and we got it convincingly so it’s pretty exciting with three days to go.
It’s insane, we were pretty lucky to get to see the track endurance and tandems go before so it was cool once you got up there, you knew that noise was for us.
Steph and I are not a new team but we’re not an old team either, we’ve almost won nearly every time we step on a track together, so to be able to go from Anna as a team sprint partner to Steph and make some history is awesome, and I’m looking forward to Tokyo and beyond.
We’ve both got amazing form at the moment which is a credit to our coaches and I think this crowd is pushing us over the line as well.
men's team sprint
The Australian men's quartet of Nathan Hart, Matthew Glaetzer, Patrick Constable and Jacob Schmid won bronze in the men's team sprint.
It was a heartbreaking opening for the team the afternoon qualifying, with Constable pulling his foot at the start of their heat. The team was granted a re-run minutes later, and recovered to post the third best time to send them into the bronze medal ride.
Schmid came in for Glaetzer in the final, with the team too strong for Canada as they clocked 43.645seconds for three laps to win the bronze.