Though they were outpaced by Australia in the final, the New Zealand women’s team pursuit squad still provided their country with its first medal of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games today.
The four New Zealand women – Rushlee Buchanan, Racquel Sheath, Bryony Botha and Kirstie Jones claimed the silver medal.
The lightning fast Australians were timed at 4min 15.214s and lapped the New Zealanders just on the finish line.
The Australians always looked strong, but for the first 2000m the New Zealand women hung on tenaciously, trailing by just 1.9s. The remorseless power and precision of the Australians was too much in the end, but there was no shame for the New Zealanders in finishing second to such a world-class unit.
In the preliminary racing, the Australians, as expected were fastest qualifiers, with 4min 17.218s, a Games record. New Zealand snuck into the gold medal ride-off when their time of 4min 22.331s shaded Canada’s 4min 22.484s.
Canada won the bronze medal from England.
For the New Zealand quartet, the silver medal is a continuation of their fine form. They were sixth at the recent world championships in the Netherlands and two of them, Buchanan and Sheath, were in the team that finished fourth in the pursuit at the Rio Olympics. Buchanan is at her third Commonwealth Games.
Jones said later the team was proud to have won New Zealand's first medal of the Games. "It's not the colour we want, but we're so happy to come away with a medal," she said.
She felt the pursuit team had come together extremely well this season.
"We went out there knowing we really had each others' backs. It is a special feeling."
Buchanan echoed those thoughts, saying New Zealanders never like losing to the Australians, but they were still proud to have won the silver.
There was a shock for the New Zealand 4000m men's pursuit team earlier when they were deprived of the opportunity of riding for the bronze medal.
One of the New Zealanders' bikes was found to be outside of specifications during their qualifying run.
"We have regulations that pertain to the setup that the bike can be configured in and one of our bikes was found to be non-compliant for the front end of the bike," Cycling New Zealand high performance director Martin Barras said.
"It was very, very close to the mark, but it was a failing on our part."
It was not revealed which of Regan Gough, Nick Kergozou, Campbell Stewart or Tom Sexton's bike was the offender.
What made the incident all the more galling was that the New Zealanders looked a class above Canada in the qualifying racing and seems at strong odds to win the bronze. Australia later won the gold medal in world record time.
Glasgow 2014 Gold Coast 2018 Rio 2016 Commonwealth Games Olympic Summer Games Rushlee Buchanan Racquel Sheath Bryony Botha Kirstie James Cycling - Track