Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) – Australia went some way towards easing the pain of Rio 2016 as the Commonwealth Games hosts sealed a hat-trick of track cycling golds on Thursday, demolishing a world record along the way.
Roared on by a capacity crowd at the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane, the Australians romped home against old rivals England in the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in a record 3mins 49.804sec, beating the 3:50.265 set by Britain at Rio.
The Australians also triumphed in the women’s team pursuit and women’s team sprint — each time over New Zealand — to carry home three of the four golds up for grabs on the first day of track cycling action.
The men’s team sprint title went to New Zealand with England again pipped into silver.
All the medals were shared between Australia, New Zealand, England and Canada, but it was the home nation who excelled.
In front of the watching Camilla, wife of Britain’s Prince Charles, it was a measure of redemption for the under-pressure home racers.
The Australian cycling team went to the Olympics two years ago aiming to win at least three golds, but they returned home with none and instead it was Britain who dominated on that occasion.
Alex Porter was part of the record-setting Australian men’s team, the first in history to go under 3mins 50sec in the team pursuit.
“I’m ecstatic, I’m still lost for words and I think it will take a while to sink in,” said Porter, proudly sporting a 1980s-style blonde mullet.
“When we crossed the line I felt relief and we were ecstatic to see that we’d broken the world record.”
On his eye-catching if outdated hairstyle, Porter said: “It was a deal with my brother to grow a mullet a few months ago. What is more Aussie than a mullet?”
Team-mate Sam Welsford said that to go below 3:50 was “unreal”.
“I’m over the moon with excitement. We’re in our home country — that is what dreams are made of. This is what we strive for every day.”
Annette Edmondson, of the victorious women’s 4,000m pursuit team, said there was extra satisfaction after the let-down of the Rio Olympics, which triggered a series of reforms in Australian cycling.
“After the setbacks in Rio… that is sport, and it has its ups and downs. Our thoughts were on this race and to get on with it and get the job done,” she said.