World Track Championships 2009
500m TT- Simona Krupeckaite - NEW WORLD RECORD 33.296 seconds
The top sprinters in the world were in Poland. Notable absentee was Jennie Reed (USA) who has retired after her success in 2008. The track was fast and despite the sub-zero temperatures outside, the inside was very warm.
The news of the night was the new World Record time set by Lithuanian Simona Krupeckaite. Australian Anna Meares held first place with only two riders to go. An incredible result for Meares, after just over 12 months of recovery from a fractured neck, to win a silver at the Olympics and setting a blistering time of 33.796 seconds in Poland. Victoria Pendleton (GBR) almost manage to catch Meares but could not quite match her speed. Krupeckaite's speed was amazing and breaking the world record was a shock to all.
Twenty three women started the 500m TT event. Olga Panarina (BLR) was the first to start and she set the benchmark for the top riders. Her time of 34.557 seconds was only 1 minute outside the World Record. It wasn't matched until Meares rode. Her time of 33.796 seconds was only .192 seconds outside her World record set in 2007.
Victoria Pendleton (GBR) set a time of 34.102 seconds to go second behind Meares. Team mate to Meares, Kaarle McCulloch was 15th to start and set the second fastest time over the first lap but slowed to 6th overall at the finish.
The World Cup classic winner Jinjie Gong (CHN) could not repeat her season long form and finished well off the pace at 35.442 seconds. With only 4 riders to go, Meares was still holding first place. Willy Kanis the Dutch sprinting sensation could not match the speed of Meares or Pendleton and finished in 34.258 seconds.
French woman Sandie Clair had an incredible start and was second at the half way point. Her second lap let her down though and she finished just behind Pendleton in a time of 34.114 seconds.
Simona Krupeckaite was the last but one to start and she set the fastest first lap. She maintained her speed to the end breaking the World Record by .292 seconds.
The World Champion from 2008, Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez of Cuba was the last to start and despite starting fast, she could not maintain her speed and finished in a time of 34.358 seconds.
Simona Krupeckaite (LTU) was not surprise that she had broken the World Record. "I knew I could do it," she said. "I have been riding well all year and I knew I would have a chance today, I am very happy," added Krupeckaite.
Anna Meares (AUS) was very humble about getting a silver medal at these championships and losing her World best time. "I am very pleased with that. It hurt a lot more than I remember it did and I did a sub 34 seconds, which I am really pleased about. I don't know whether you saw my reaction to the time of Simona, [Krupeckaite] but my jaw nearly hit the floor. I was completely blown away. It was a great ride by her and as much as I am disheartened that my record has gone, I think it is great for Women's sprint cycling in general. The challenge that is always there to better ourselves makes for a great competition," said Meares.
Meares was asked about her future as a sprinter and the Team Sprint, she added "I think there is some improvement on the first lap and given my ride tonight I think there is improvement on the second lap too. I don't think I have had enough preparation time. I am here as good as I can be right now. But my goodness the ride of Simona was incredible. She has certainly set that benchmark far higher than I have ever achieved so it is exciting. I am looking forward to the time to come," added Meares.
Looking forward to the Team Sprint, Meares spoke with excitement. "I am really looking forward to that event. Kaarle [McCulloch] rode a personal best time for the 500 in a time of 19.1 for the first lap in her ride and almost matched that in the second lap. I rode an 18.9 first lap, so if you look at the time for the second lap it was almost the same time as Victoria Pendleton. If we get a good start out of the gate we could be in with a good chance," added Meares.
Victoria Pendleton (GBR) has had an incredible ride since the Olympics and spoke about her performance in the 500m TT and dealing with the pressures of being an Olympic champion. "Since the Olympics, it has been nothing more than a really hard struggle to really push the pedals in anger. I have felt like I have been there in body but not really in spirit. I would be lying if I said it had been easy. I can't believe the last 12 months. I am looking forward to a holiday to be honest. My agent does an incredible job in dealing with the publicity side of all of this. To be honest I could not deal with the pressure of it by myself otherwise. He deals with so much for me. If I had to deal with it all I would not find time for training. I train for 6 days a week and it is hard. I have had to say no to a lot of things to be honest. I have had to turn offers of sponsorship away because I knew that I would not be able to fulfil the requirements. I know what I have to do as an athlete to be able reach the point where I can keep maintaining my form and to keep winning. It is a hard situation to be in. You almost have to put a price on your training," said Pendleton
Attempting all four of the sprint events, Pendleton talked about focusing on so many events, "I have never done all four before, so I am not sure how it will go. It is the first time the programme really allowed me to ride all four. I could have ridden it last year but because of the qualification for the Olympics I chose not to ride. I wanted to focus on being the best I could in the sprint. This year is different, as it is the day before the Team Sprint, I thought I would give it a go. Have a chance to get on the boards and get a good opportunity to get a good start. I have nothing to lose. All I can do is to do my best. People expect me to win but this is about experience and getting through them. I understand more about what my body can do now, how it recovers and what I can expect. I have more confidence as an athlete now. That is what makes me a better athlete and allows me to have more enjoyment from riding," added Pendleton.
Reflecting on the 500m TT, Pendleton said, "I am pleased with my time. Krupeckaite's time was amazing on this track tonight. It is not exceptionally warm out there, it is only about 22 degrees on the track. Her time was unbelievable, hats off to her really. I am sure that Anna Meares thought that her time was on the shelf. That was such a huge jump from the previous record and this time tonight has taken it to another level."
Kaarle McCulloch (AUS) was over the moon with her ride despite not medalling she achieved a personal best time by half a second. "I did a PB for the first lap and overall I did a PB by almost half a second which I am really pleased about," said McCulloch. Looking towards the Team Sprint, McCulloch added, "It is very promising and very exciting. I am really looking forward to tomorrow night. Anna is experienced and keeps me calm, so did Kerrie [Meares] but Anna is more experienced in these types of competitions. she is keeping me cool calm and collected," added McCulloch. McCulloch is riding all of the sprint events and is looking forward to the next few days of racing.
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