Commonwealth Games coverage
Published: 24 July 2014
Written by: Scott Hobro
Image: Tim Ireland/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Para-cycling tandem duo Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott won England’s first cycling gold medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games with a dominant performance on the opening day of competition.
The pair triumphed in straight heats against Scotland’s Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston in the final at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
The Scottish riders could, though, celebrate winning their country’s first medal of the Games with silver.
Sir Bradley Wiggins, Steven Burke, Ed Clancy and Andy Tennant added silver for England in the team pursuit after losing to Australia.
And in the men’s team sprint, Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Kian Emadi took another silver medal for England, New Zealand the victors.
The trio stopped the clock in 43.706 seconds as Ethan Mitchell, Edward Dawkins and Sam Webster broke the Games record in 43.181 seconds.
Jess Varnish had earlier won Team England’s first medal in the velodrome with bronze in the 500m time-trial. Australia’s Anna Meares earned a record-equalling fifth gold medal in track cycling at the Commonwealth Games with a time of 33.435.
"We went out to win and rode the best race we could, thankfully that was good enough for gold,” said Thornhill, who was born with oculocutaneous albinism and is visually impaired.
“Even the Scottish are getting behind us and it was really fantastic to hear the cheers on the last lap when it starts to hurt.
Pilot Scott added: "It is a real honour to race against a legend like Aileen with so many Olympic and world medals, if I can do half as well as she has in my career then I will be happy."
Double world champion Thornhill and Scott had qualified fastest with a Commonwealth Games record of 11.277 as para-cycling made its debut in the competition.
Their raw speed was plain to see as they comfortably beat Australia’s Felicity Johnson and Holly Takos in the semi-finals.
And although pushed hard by McGlynn and Haston, they were able to avoid a deciding ride in the best of three.
Sir Bradley Wiggins - making his return to the track - along with Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant were powerless to prevent Australia from defending their title.
The Australian four, featuring reigning world champions Luke Davison and Alex Edmondson plus Olympic silver medallists Jack Bobridge and Glenn O'Shea, led from the start.
And despite losing Luke Davison at the two-kilometre mark, they continued to extend their lead, eventually setting a Commonwealth Games record of 3:54.851 to England’s 4:00.136.
"This is the start for us now, Rio is the goal and we have got to work back from that," Wiggins said after the final.
"We are all at different stages but that’s what team pursuit is all about, getting the four riders to the finish line. We have done two world class rides from just four weeks together.
"It takes four people to be on par and I think we have all had such different preparation this year, I thick there are a lot of positives to take from it. I think there is a lot more to come and I think that is going to take a lot more dedication to track."
In the morning session, Team England’s Matt Crampton and Jason Kenny were the sole British survivors from the opening round of the men’s sprint.
Crampton and teammates Kenny and Hindes, Scotland’s Callum Skinner and Wales’ Lewis Oliva lost their opening round ties and were forced to race in the repechages.
Crampton won his three-man heat to go through at the expense of Philip Hindes to progress while Kenny held off the challenges of Skinner and Oliva in the second heat.
Kenny had squeezed through qualifying in 11th with only the top 12 moving forward to the knockout rounds.
Hindes was sixth with Oliva eighth, Skinner 10th and Crampton 12th.
Scotland’s John Paul and Chris Pritchard narrowly missed the cut in 14th and 18th respectively.