April 2018 - Commonwealth Games - Australia - 3:49.804.
February 2019 - World Championships - Poland - 3:48.012.
Australia’s Leigh Howard (VIC), Kelland O’Brien (VIC), Samuel Welsford (WA) and Alex Porter (SA) smashed their own world record by nearly two seconds on the way to reclaiming the rainbow jersey at the World Championships in Poland on Thursday.
The Australian quartet, guided by Tim Decker, brought the Polish crowd to its feet as they scorched the Pruszkow Velodrome in a new world record time of 3mins 48.012secs (averaging 63.155km/h), bettering the astonishing ride at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (3:49.804) where they became the first team in history to crack the three-minute fifty barrier.
“I am lost for words, this team is proving to be more and more special every time we come together,” said O’Brien.
`“What can I say except thank you, I am so grateful to be a part of this team,” said Howard. “I am fortunate that I have come back into the program with such a fantastic group, not just the riders but the staff has developed so much since I was last in the program and I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone.”
“Its a bit surreal to be honest,” said Porter. “I knew the boys were going quick, but I didn’t think we were going that fast. I can’t put this into words properly, its crazy.
“It has been a rough season, I missed the first half rehabbing. Ten weeks ago when I broke eight bones and punctured a lung, I was just hoping to be here.”
Welsford, Howard, O’Brien, and debutant Cameron Scott (NSW) opened the team’s 2019 World’s campaign in style on Wednesday with the fastest qualifying time (3:52.152).
With Porter coming in for Scott, the quartet set a cracking near world-record pace in their first round matchup against New Zealand. However, they lost momentum when they were forced to navigate a splintered New Zealand after catching them with three laps to go before posting a time of 3mins 51.529.
Traditional rivals Great Britain didn’t stand a chance in the battle for the gold when the Australians pulled the throttle from the gun and never let go. Great Britain post a time of 3mins 50.810secs to win silver.
The team’s coach, Tim Decker was almost lost for words after the win.
“I’m a bit emotional,” revealed Decker. “It’s been a fantastic night and we probably exceeded our expectations in regard to time in the TP.
“We came in here with a real focus to nail our ride and try to execute a good, skilled ride and try to find a way to make it happen and give those guys a chance to chase the rainbow bands and they were hungry to chase.
“Yesterday we had a few challenges thrown at us, but we made our way into the final but they brought it together and came away with a pretty magical time.”
Less than half an hour ride and still dripping with sweat following the team pursuit world record ride, Welsford claimed a dramatic late victory in the scratch race.
“It has been a crazy thirty minutes, I am gobsmacked,” a shocked Welsford said. “To do a forty-eight with my boys Kel, Cam, Leigh, Porter, that’s the best thing I could ever imagine.
“To break our own world record and leading into the Olympics next year is bloody awesome.
“The icing on the cake is the win in the scratch race. It’s a dream come true for us.