Ross Edgar crashed out of the semi-final of a controversial Commonwealth Games Keirin competition that saw Azizulhasni Awang disqualified after he’d crossed the line first in the final.
Scotland’s Edgar was one of the favourites for the gold medal but he came a cropper in his semi-final race when he and South African Pierre Esterhuizen collided. The crash was blamed on a movement by Shane Perkins, the Australian who was just ahead of them and who went on to win the heat. Perkins was disqualified but several views of the replay made it difficult to see exactly what the judges had objected to.
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Edgar said: “I’m a bit gutted as the Keirin was my main goal. But it was a harsh decision [to disqualify Perkins]. It was one of those things and I’d have been very disappointed if it had been the other way round. I don’t think he was in the wrong.”
In the final, Malaysia’s Awang, one of the most exciting Keirin riders in the world, squeezed through a gap that didn’t appear to be there. With sheer bravado he nudged New Zealand’s Simon van Velthooven and got through to hit the line first.
But the judges decided he’d veered off his line and disqualified him. That gave the gold medal to his compatriot Josiah Ng. England’s David Daniell moved up from bronze to silver – England’s first medal in the track cycling in these games – and Van Velthooven got the bronze.
The Keirin, which in the past has seen aggression that has strayed well over the line of what is acceptable, has been sanitised to such a point that there’s only one route to the finish line now – and that’s over the top. Anything else, and particularly contact with another competitor, even if it doesn’t result in a crash, risks disqualification. Awang may have ducked and dived to get through the gap but he did it safely and with consideration and, as Geraint Thomas pointed out on Twitter, it’s arguable that a small rider should be able to intimidate much bigger men to give up their line.
Earlier, the Australians had bossed the women’s points race, with Megan Dunn beating Kiwi Lauren Ellis by five points. Canada’s Tara Whitten – who had just ridden the qualifying round in the team sprint – took bronze. England’s Katie Colclough was fourth.
The Australian gold rush continued when Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch beat the Scottish pair of Charline Joiner and Jenny Davis in the final of the team sprint. It was Scotland’s first cycling medal of the Games.
There were only four teams in the competition, with the hosts India looking as if they were just getting to grips with it. They had problems in their heat and again in the final, when the lead-off rider Rameshwori Devi pulled her foot out of the pedal in the start gate. The Canadians took the bronze medal comfortably.
World champion Cameron Meyer absolutely dominated the points race, gaining three laps on his way to gold. From the halfway mark it was a race for silver, which George Atkins of England took with a gutsy ride. Mark Christian grabbed the bronze for the Isle of Man ahead of Sam Harrison of Wales. They were tied on points but Christian got third place on count-back.
On day two in the velodrome, the Aussies continued to dominate. They have won six of the seven events so far, with only the men’s Keirin evading them.
Olympic champion Geraint Thomas offers his opinion on the action
“The keirin was a great race to watch. I’m good mates with Matt Crampton, and we sometimes talk about sprinting. I thought Awang’s move was okay, it’s part of the race to push your way about and up to the guys to hold their position. Awang should have kept his medal; the Kiwi rider should have been able to hold his position, but he was dying and got muscled out.
It was good to see Katie Colclough take a lap, though the women’s points race was a bit of a sprinter’s one. A lot of the women’s races turn into that when countries like Australia and New Zealand have strong teams and can control. Another good race to watch: you can’t complain when it goes down to the last lap.
Cameron Meyer is head and shoulders above the rest; even at the world championships, he tore the field apart. It would have been nice to see Sam Harrison get a medal, but he’s a classy young rider and has got bags of time ahead of him.
It’s good to see these young guys experiencing a multi-sport games. Melbourne 2006 was my first, and that really helped before Beijing.
But it’s really strange watching; with the papers and commentary, you can see what it’s really like for the fans. I’m enjoying it, but still wish I was there racing.”
CYCLING MEDAL TABLE
|Isle of Man||0||0||1||1|
Women’s points race
1. Megan Dunn (Australia) 45pts
2. Lauren Ellis (New Zealand) 40pts
3. Tara Whitten (Canada) 36pts
4. Katie Colclough (England) 24pts
5. Heather WIlson (Northern Ireland) 33pts
9. Laura Trott (England) 5pts
12. Lucy Martin (England) 1pt
13. Alex Greenfield (Wales) 1pt
14. Hannah Rich (Wales) 0pt
15. Kate Cullen (Scotland) 0pt
DNF Eileen Roe (Scotland)
Women’s team sprint
1. Australia (McCulloch and Meares)
2. Scotland (Davis and Joiner)
3. Canada (Sullivan and Whitten)
1. Josiah Ng (Malaysia)
2. David Daniell (England)
3. Simon Van Velthooven (New Zealand)
5. Peter Mitchell (England)
9. Ross Edgar (Scotland)
13. Chris Pritchard (Scotland)
13. Lewis Olivia (Wales)
16. Kevin Stewart (Scotland)
Men’s points race
1. Cameron Meyer (Australia) 89pts
2. George Atkins (England) 52pts
3. Mark Christian (Isle of Man) 37pts
4. Sam Harrison (Wales) 37pts
6. Evan Oliphant (Scotland) 23pts