Commonwealth Games: Australia and New Zealand win pursuit cycling golds

Australian gold medallists Georgia Baker, Sophie Edwards, Chloe Moran and Maeve Plouffe celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Australia and New Zealand each set new Commonwealth Games records while winning gold in the women's and men's 4,000 metres team pursuit cycling events on Friday (July 29) as England's Laura Kenny took an emotional bronze medal.

The Australian women's team of Georgia Baker, Sophie Edwards, Chloe Moran and Maeve Plouffe defeated New Zealand by a convincing margin of five seconds in a new record time of four minutes 12.34 seconds.

Although the bulk of this year's edition of the multi-sport Commonwealth Games are being staged in Birmingham, track cycling is taking place at the Olympic velodrome in London in order to make use of an existing facility during an event being backed with £778 million (S$1.3 billion) of public money.

It is a track cycling star Kenny knows well, having won two of her five career Olympic gold medals during the 2012 London Games.

The 30-year-old Kenny has endured a torrid time since last year's Covid-delayed Tokyo Olympics, suffering a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy.

But back on the track, she was able to guide a youthful England team featuring the 19-year-old Maddie Leech and Sophie Lewis, 20, to a medal with a win over Wales in the bronze ride-off, even if they were well off the pace set by Australia and New Zealand.

"I've never felt so much pressure to try to win a bronze medal in my whole career," Kenny said.

"The fact this is such a young team, I've been lucky in my career to have some brilliant experiences and step on the podium but this is the first taste of it for Maddie and Sophie.

"Going into that final, it could have been for gold at an Olympics I was that nervous."

New Zealand gold medallists Aaron Gate, Tom Sexton, Jordan Kerby and Campbell Stewart celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony. PHOTO: REUTERS

New Zealand's Aaron Gate, Jordan Kerby, Tom Sexton and Campbell Stewart took gold in the corresponding men's event with victory over England in the final featuring a new Commonwealth Games record of 3:47.575.

There was more success for New Zealand in the women's team sprint, again in record time, with Rebecca Petch, Olivia King and Ellesse Andrews, taking gold in the final in 47.425 sec.

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