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Rowsell: Glasgow Games spurred me

Joanna Rowsell added Commonwealth Games gold to a collection that already includes Olympic and world titles after a barnstorming performance in the individual pursuit.

The 3,000-metres discipline boasted a star-studded field, including all three of Great Britain’s Olympic team pursuit champions – Rowsell, Laura Trott and Dani King – as well as strong contenders from Scotland and Wales, in the form of Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker.

But Rowsell, who took IP gold in the worlds at Cali earlier this year, turned in an irrepressible showing, setting a new Commonwealth record in qualifying before defeating Australia’s Annette Edmondson in the final by a clear 3.835 seconds.

Triple Olympic champion Jason Kenny came close to claiming a second gold of the day for England, but was pipped by New Zealand’s Sam Webster in the final race of the day to leave with silver in the men’s sprint.

Rowsell’s Games record time of three minutes 29.038 seconds broke Katie Mactier’s eight-year-old mark, set in Delhi, and her 3:31.615 in the head-to-head left Edmondson a distant second.

Rowsell’s success was England’s second gold in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome following victory for para-cyclist Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott in the tandem B sprint on Thursday.

The individual pursuit may not be an Olympic discipline, much to 25-year-old Rowsell’s detriment, but she has been eyeing glory in Glasgow ever since stepping off the podium at London 2012.

“Ever since the Olympics I’ve been thinking about this event. It feels absolutely brilliant,” she said.

“Something like this only comes round once every four years and after the Olympics it was the thought of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow that really spurred me on.

“Obviously a home Olympics was massive, but this is pretty close to home. I have been motivated for two years now, ever since the Games, so I’m pretty pleased to pull it off.

“I am really pleased to get a new personal best and a Commonwealth record as well is really special.”

Rowsell drew inspiration from the performance of her England team-mates on Thursday, even though the men’s team sprint and team pursuit had to settle for silver.

“For us watching yesterday, we got quite a lot of inspiration from all the guys and obviously gold for Sophie and Scotty on the tandem – they’re staying in our house with us so it’s great to see them win gold,” she added.

Australian Amy Cure claimed third place after beating Archibald in bronze medal race, but the home favourite can take great credit from qualifying faster than Trott, Barker and King, who finished sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

For Kenny, it was a case of mixed feelings after being presented with a silver medal by his friend and one-time rival Sir Chris Hoy, in the structure that bears his name.

The 26-year-old had qualified 11th fastest out of 12, lost his first-round race and required repechage to even make the last four.

But he engaged in three thrilling best-of-three knockouts, seeing off Australian pair Matthew Glaetzer and Peter Lewis in the quarter and semi-finals – on both occasions losing the opener before producing flawless tactical rides to progress.

Only Webster, who was part of the Kiwi group that forced Kenny, Philip Hindes and Kian Emadi into second place in the team sprint on day one, proved a test too far.

Kenny, who was blown away in the first race, summoned enough energy to hit back and force a decider, but did not have the legs to finish the job.

“It was a tough day – not a lot of rest between rides – but we had some really good racing out there,” he said.

“I wasn’t feeling great after the semi-final, pretty lethargic, and Sam took advantage of that. He steamrollered me in the first ride – that was a novice thing to let happen – but we got back up and proved I had the legs to beat him.

“It was nice to take it three rides – he didn’t get it easy.

“There’s always disappointment when you get silver, but I’m just happy to be in the mix, right at the sharp end with the best in the world.”

As for his podium meeting with Hoy, Kenny added: “It was strange seeing him. That’s the first time I’ve bumped into him at the Games.

“He’s the busiest man in the world now so we don’t see much of him, but it was nice to catch up again.”

Wales’ Owain Doull narrowly missed out on a medal in the 4,000m individual pursuit, placing fourth.

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