Athens 2004 - Track Events
Wednesday 25th August 2004
The points race is 100laps - 25km. There are sprints for points every 10 laps. The points awarded are 5,3,2,1 points for the first four across the line. A lapped rider will lose 20 points.
At the half way stage, the race was led by the Columbian, Maria Luisa Calle Williams, with strong contender, Belum Guerro Mendez (Mex) second. Kate Bates from Australia was in third - having opened the race by taking the first sprint and not scoring points again until the 5th sprint, when she took third. Winner of the halfway sprint was Italian, Vera Carrara.
With 42 laps to go, Huguet (Fra), Visser (Ned), Slyusareva (Rus) went away, to be joined by Mendez, The 6th sprint went to Slyusareva, just before the bunch brought the escapees back.
With under 40 to go, Sarah Ulmer went off the front, followed by Emma Davies. The pair quickly gained 1/2 lap, but then chased down by Slyusareva and Huguet. The 7th sprint went to Ulmer, unchallenged by Davies. Slyusareva was third - leading the bunch. Shortly afterwards, Ulmer and Davies went back into the bunch, having sat up. At this stage, the leader was Maria Luisa Calle Williams 11pts followed by Mendez 9pts and Slyusareva 6pts.
With 20 to go, Slyusareva posted her colours - the defending World Champion took 5 points and took over the lead of the race. Slyusareva is 4 times World Champion and although she won the Olympics RR bronze here in Athens, this is where her strength lies....
The 90 lap sprint saw the bunch all together, but strong into a long line. Sarah Ulmer led at the bell, but was no match for the tactics and acceleratation of Slyusareva, who took another 5 points to go 7 points clear, on 19pts ahead of Calle Williams on 12pts. As long as she finished and as long as noone took a lap (and the corresponding 20 points), Slyusareva had won the gold medal! The battle would be on for the silver and bronze medals between Williams and Mendez.
At the bell, Gonzalez the Cuban went, overtaken by German Meinke on the line. Slyusareva was fourth over the line and took another point to cement her victory. Mendez did enough for second and silver and despite a crash on the final bend, which prevented her from finishing with the bunch, Calle Williams took the bronze.
So, in the final women's event on the track for the Games of the 28th Olympiad, the current World Champion had taken the Olympic title as well.
1 Olga Slyusareva (Rus) 20 pts
2 Belum Guerrero Mendez (Mex)
3 Maria Luisa Calle Williams (Col)
In detail :
Olga Slyusareva was understandably pleased with her gold medal. She might also be pleased with the Russian Olympic Committee's bonus system which will leave her $50,000US richer as a result too.
Slyusareva admitted that her slow start in terms of earning points gave her some early doubts, but that "finally it all went well, because I was very strong today." She dedicated her medal to her mother - who's birthday it was, but when asked to rank the importance of the gold medal, admitted that the birth of her son came in front of the medal. At 35, Slyusareva is an experienced campaigner. Of going to Beijing in 2008, she said "I don't know. I will start to think about it tomorrow."
The two South Americans in silver and bronze were quick to think about their home countries and to thank the people there for their support. Belum Mendez admitted that she perhaps did not have the speed of her opponents, but that "It was a very difficult race. Normally I am not that fast but on this fast track I rode a very intelligent and aggressive race. If you can combine those two elements, you have a chance for a good result."
Maria Luisa Calle Williams also paid tribute to the strength of the competition "I had very good opponents like Olga SLYUSAREVA (RUS) and Belem GUERRERO MENDEZ (MEX), something that made the race very difficult." Her tactics were simple, she simply "...attacked from the beginning as I wanted to collect points as fast as I could."
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