The final day of track racing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia was one of mixed emotions for the Northern Ireland team. In the Scratch Race Lydia Boylan was the top finisher as 8th rider across the line. Robyn Stewart and Marc Potts both finished 12th in the Keirin and Points Race respectively.
The Points Race was drama-filled with Mark Downey looking good for qualification to the final out of heat one, until an incident with twenty laps to go hampered his hopes.
In the second heat Marc Potts secured the final qualification spot, just ahead of Xeno Young. Potts finished 12th overall at the end of the 40km race. “I’m not buzzing with the result – but it’s not terrible either,” Potts explained after the race. “The plan for the race was to do very little for the first half, and then on the second half start to go for sprints and try to take a lap when people are tired.”
“I wasn’t on the limit, but I wasn’t far off it, to be honest, and then halfway through so many people had already taken a lap, it was sort of race over. Unless I was going to take two laps in the last 80 laps, I wasn’t going to get a medal. It was too fast for me to get anything really – I got a few sprints, but it was more out of frustration than anything else.”
The standard of riders competing was high, which Potts recognised – “the lads who are here at a different level to what I’m at, at the moment, I know I can get there.”
This was Potts first taste of the Commonwealth Games, and as a member of the Irish National Team he is also targeting the Olympic Games – “I’m glad to be here, and glad to get the opportunity. I’m grateful for it, and I’ve learnt so much. It’s a little glimpse of what the Olympics is like if I get there – it shows the level and what we need to do to get there, and it’s not all bad.”
In the Women’s Keirin Stewart was in flying form in the early rounds, qualifying straight to the second round from her first race, before a fourth place saw her narrowly missing out on the Finals 1-6.
The Belfast rider was mixed in her emotions following her race – “I rode well and felt strong in my first round – and happy with it. In the semi I made a poor decision to try and come around, and it cost me a spot in the final.”
In the Final 7-12 Stewart, who is relatively new to cycling, tried a new tactic which didn’t work – “I made another poor decision to go early in the minor final, I went hard early and got swamped. I’m disappointed – I felt so good, but I made bad decisions. It’s all part of this learning, but I know I can do better! This experience has been incredible, the support from home and everything. And my brother in law won gold in the points race too!” Stewart’s brother in law is Mark Stewart who was competing for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games.
In cycling the focus now switches to Time Trialling, with Marcus Christie, Xeno Young and Eileen Burns set to fly the flag for Northern Ireland next Tuesday. The Commonwealth Games run from the 4th – 15th April in the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Australia.
Women’s Scratch Race
Gold Amy Cure (Australia)
Silver Neah Evans (Scotland)
Bronze Emily Kay (England)
8th Lydia Boylan (Northern Ireland)
Gold Stephanie Morton (Australia)
Silver Kaarle McCulloch (Australia)
Bronze Natasha Hansen (New Zealand)
12th Robyn Stewart (Northern Ireland)
Men’s Points Race
Gold Mark Stewart (Scotland)
Silver Campbell Stewart (New Zealand)
Bronze Ethan Hayter (England)
12th Marc Potts (Northern Ireland)
Points Race heats – with 12 going to final
Qualifier 2 – 14th – Xeno Young (Northern Ireland)
Qualifier 1 – 13th – Mark Downey (Northern Ireland)