London: 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.
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.
Demoralised by crash
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 teammate, 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.
“I’m making a habit of bouncing back at the Commonwealth Games,” said Glaetzer, who timed 59.505sec.
“I’d rather not have such lows to come back from, but it shows there is always a new day and we can always try again,” he said.
New Zealand and Australia dominated the Commonwealth Games track cycling, which included para track events, winning eight gold medals apiece.
Most of the events at the Commonwealths are being held in Birmingham but the track cycling took place at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London.
Judoka Shushila Devi Likmabam clinched India’s seventh medal, and the first outside weightlifting in Birmingham after losing to Michaela Whitebooi of South Africa in the women’s 48kg final in judo. This is her second medal at the Commonwealth Games after she won silver at the Glasgow in 2014.
Vijay Kumar bagged a waza-ari after just 5 seconds of the bell and held on to claim the Ippon to take home the bronze medal in the men’s 60 Kg Judo event. Vijay Kumar made quick work of Cyprus’ Petros Christodoulides in the opening minute of the bronze medal match to claim a medal for India.
The final proved to be an end-to-end encounter between Sushila Devi and Michaela Whitebooi with both judokas not leaving an inch till the end of the match. Both of them failed to register a single point at the end of regulation time.
Rupa Rani's brilliant show
The Indians could not have picked anyone better than skip Rupa Rani Tirkey to play the last bowl in the women’s fours semi-final against New Zealand at the lawn bowl competition. They were trailing 13-12 going into the 15th and final end and had to score at least two shots to claim a spot in the final and secure a historic maiden medal in the competition in which they had been coming close to winning medals since in 2018.
Rupa Rani, 34, is one of the most experienced players in the Indian Fours line-up that also includes Lovely Choubey, Pinki and Nayanmoni Saikia, having represented the country in three Commonwealth Games in triples, pairs and fours so far. She has won three bronze medals in triples and fours in the Asia-Pacific Championships so far as part of the scene since 2009.
On Monday, Rupa Rani nailed the final bowl and India bagged four points, securing a memorable victory against a higher-ranked team and assuring themselves of a maiden medal.