Athens 2004 - Track Events
Sunday 22nd August 2004
Sunday sees the final of the Individual Pursuit - Sarah Ulmer the current World Champion will ride for gold against current World silver medallist - Kate Mactier. Defending Olympic Champion, Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel - who will be appearing on the international stage for the last time in the ride off for bronze goes against Australian Kate Bates. Form dictates that the result should be Ulmer, Mactier and then van Moorsel. Bates is relatively young and will doubtless be pleased that she has got this far. To win tonight, she would have to shave at least 4 seconds off her best time to meet van Moorsel's best this Games - a tall order......
Sprint - Qualifying and Rounds
The sprint qualifying is a 200m flying start. The riders are given 1 3/4 lap to get to the top of the banking and build up speed before they dive down the banking, to hit the 200m to go line at full speed, maintaining that round the back straight and through the final bend, finishing as fast as they can. Qualifying usually involves riders wearing aerodynamic helmets to shave as much time as possible off their 200m time.
The sprint rounds are the first time that the riders get to go against each other in what is perhaps the most tactical of the track disciplines. It is also a very physical affair and can be slow until the final 200m. This is event where riders circle the track at as slow as walking pace in order to gain the advantage of the rear position, where all moves can be seen and the element of surprise goes with the last rider. Once they hit the 200m to go mark, the riders will explode with speed and power. Usually, someone will try to take the advantage with up to 2 laps to go and go as far as they can for the line from there.
Australia's Olympic Record holder, Michelle Ferris has retired and World Record Holder, Olga Slyusareva rides other events these days, so there is no form there. Looking back to Melbourne, which is the last time these sprinters were together, the three medallists there all appear in the start list for this event. American Jennie Reed, who had a good World Championships was rumoured not to be riding the sprint - concentrating instead on the events later this week, but her name appears on the start list.
Start List - sprint qualifying
Times for the qualifying heat of the Sprint are below. Anna Meares, was quickest, followed by Russian, Tamilla Abassova and Belarussian Natallia Tsylinskaya. Bronze medallist from Melbourne, Lori-Ann Menuzner was fourth fastest. Meares' time was just outside of the Olympic record of 11.212seconds which was set in Atlanta in 1996 by her compatriot, Michelle Ferris.
All of these riders proceed to the 1/8 finals, which are later on Sunday (16:30hrs Athens). There will be 6 sets of sprints with the winners going through to the 1/4 finals. The losers will go to the repechage 1/8 finals.
Heat Detail for Sprint 1/8 finals
Fastest qualifier, Anna Meares, easily beat slowest qualifier, Evgenia Radanova to get through to the 1/4 finals. Lori-Ann Menuzer had lengths on the line over Jennie Reed in the North American heat. Whilst Daniela Larreal upset the formbook by beating Yvonne Hijgenaar.
The winners go through to the 1/4 finals whilst the losers go through to the 9-12 place finals.
After losing to Anna Meares in the 1/8 heats, Evgenia Radanova was pleased with her first Olympic Games. She admitted that she would have liked to have gone better, but that "for me was a great experience participating in the Olympics."
Lori-Ann Meunzer, who at 38 years old is the eldest competitor at the velodrome, is the only Canadian competitor in the track team. Of her easy win over Jennie Reed of the USA, she said I was in control from the start, then I made a little error but I stayed calm. I knew I had the power and could win it. Now I will take the heats one at the time. And we will see what is in there for me at the end."
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