After a successful bid throughout the 2014 track national and world championships, I was selected for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow, Scotland alongside my little brother Alex. There were three women’s track endurance events held, and I was set to compete in all three, alongside teammates Amy Cure and Melissa Hoskins. Although my main events, the team pursuit and omnium weren’t on the event schedule, I was looking forward to focussing on three different events, the individual pursuit, scratch and points races as this would provide me with a new variation of training and an opportunity to see how I could perform in these particular events given specific, individual preparation.
We arrived in Glasgow a week before race day. This gave us time to get used to the hype and craziness of the athlete’s village before it was time to compete. After competing at the Olympic Games, I had a slight understanding of what to expect. The number of athletes, the size of the food hall and the business of the village were all points to get used to. All we had to do was try and make everything as normal as possible; keep the same routines, eat the same foods, have the same bed time, make sure we don’t walk too much and recover after training. Most of my teammates had experienced this before so it was quite easy to get used to.
Once again we missed out on walking at the opening ceremony, and once again we understood why. At the Olympic Games, Melissa Hoskins, Josie Tomic and I missed out on making Gold/Silver team pursuit final by 0.001 of a second to USA. Had we walked in the opening ceremony, I might have blamed it on that… We wanted to make sure we did everything possible to get the most out of us on race day.
The cycling team got dressed up in our opening ceremony outfits and took photos with Australia’s flag bearer, our very own cyclist, Anna Meares. It was a nice touch! We watched the opening ceremony on TV and had an early night.
Amy and I competed on the second day of the Games, in the 3km Individual Pursuit. I had no idea what to expect. I came into our track team camp 7 weeks prior, very underdone. I lost a bit of focus racing on the road in the lead up to camp and it really increased the pressure on me to get where I wanted to be by race day. It was an intense 7 weeks, however I was motivated and really gave it my all.
I went out there and had a cracker of a ride. I was up against Laura Brown from Canada, a rider who typically starts out slower but comes home hard. I am the opposite, I go out hard and try to hang on in the final laps. I used this to my advantage and got her in sight. I then used her to help me chase, overtook her and hung on till the end. I posted a time of 3:30.7, almost equal to my personal best time. Considering the track conditions weren’t super fast I believe this would have been my best Individual Pursuit to date. I was stoked. Finally the stress was lifted. I had qualified second fastest, behind current world champ, Joanna Rowsell from England. My teammate and roommate, Amy Cure finished just behind me and would ride off for Bronze that night against Katie Archibald from Scotland.
I was excited and pumped for the final. I had absolutely nothing to lose. I was so happy to know that I was in such good form. It’s sometimes hard to tell at training, because you don’t often do full length training efforts, and since this was the first time I had focused on the IP I didn’t have any training data to compare it to.
I went out hard in the final and then started to race Joanna. She had gone out hard too and the race was on. With five or so laps to go, I was down on Jo and I really had to start to lift the pace. I tried to increase the pace, but the gap stayed the same. I tried again to bring the gap down, but it was in vain. I didn’t have anything left and Jo beat me fair and square. I was disappointed to do a 3min35 and had hoped to be able to back up better than that, however I was over the moon to be walking away with a silver medal.
My younger brother also came away with a silver medal that night in the men’s individual pursuit, so that was quite funny! I faced the media before heading back to the village to get organised for the scratch race which would be head the following day.
The scratch race was going to be interesting. It was the first major race that I would compete in with two teammates by my side. Each country was allowed three starters, so whichever team could prove to work the best together would come out on top.
Due to my sprint background from junior days, I have a very fast final kick and would be hard to beat if it came down to a bunch finish. Amy, Mel and I would play that card if that’s what it came down to. Mel and Amy are also fast finishers so they were looking to cover moves and possibly get into a break away if the opportunity arose. As it turned out, Mel covered a lot of moves that didn’t manage to stay away. Her work on the front of the bunch allowed Amy and I to sit in and remain fresh for the latter part of the race.
It was going to come down to bunch sprint, so I managed to find Amy’s wheel with three laps to go before she started an incredible lead-out. I slotted down into Katie Archibald’s wheel, in third position with 2 laps to go. This was an ideal position because it meant that if Amy tired, Katie would be forced to go and would give me a perfect lead-out. I kept looking over my shoulder, waiting for either a surge from behind or for Katie to go, but Amy had kept the pace so high that no one could do anything!
I was feeling good. I was relaxed and felt confident. I tried to leave it as late as possible, to try and keep Amy in the top few positions without bringing people over the top with me, incase she could hang on to the finish. After all the effort from Mel and Amy, I couldn’t stuff this up. They had sacrificed their own chances of winning for me. I had to win it, for them.
With half a lap to go, I kicked. I jumped out of the seat and moved three-wide around Katie. I couldn’t believe it when I looked down and saw Amy holding on. She had done a 2.5 lap lead out and was still holding on. I got the run off the bank and crossed the finish line in first place. I was OVER THE MOON! I have got a few 2nds and 3rds at world-level, but NEVER a gold. It meant so much to me. It wasn’t until I did a couple of laps that I realised Amy hadn’t just held on for a medal too, she had come 2nd!! What a ride!
We talked about the scenario of getting two medals but that was just a fantasy. Our goal was to win gold for Australia, but to bring home silver as well was such a wonderful bonus. This was a very special moment that I will never forget.
We couldn’t celebrate too hard though, we still had a third race to ride; the points race which was on the following day. After our rides in the scratch race we were filled with confidence. We all felt great and were looking forward to a final chance.
Halfway though the 25km points race, Amy managed to get into a break away with eight other girls. Mel and I then had to focus on trying to lead out Amy to help her get as many points as possible in the final sprints (held every 10 laps.) We gave it our all but could only get Amy into 4th place. She had just missed out on the medals.
There were a few things we could have done better, but we all did the best we could and made what we thought were the best decisions at the time. The British girls proved to be too strong and England’s Laura Trott came home with the win.
Although the result of the points race was disappointing, Mel, Amy and I could leave with our heads held high. We had won 4 out of 9 medals offered from 8 starts. I think that was a pretty good result for Australia!
What was also funny was that my little brother would be returning home with a matching pair of gold and silver medals that he won in the team and individual pursuits; the Australian media certainly found this entertaining!
After all the stress, nerves and excitement, the 2014 Commonwealth Games were over. I was coming home with a gold and a silver and was absolutely stoked. I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank my teammates, Amy and Mel for not just their help in the racing, but for being there through the whole process. We had a two month long training camp and came so far both individually and as a team. Thanks also to all my friends and family, and to those who sent their support throughout the Games period, it means more than you know!
~what a dream come true!