TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM
Gold Coast cyclist Louise Nolan sacrificed her own medal chances to set up Kathy Watt’s road race gold in 1994
WHEN the sun rises over the Gold Coast on Monday morning the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be history.
There have been plenty of memorable and amazing moments and a legacy left behind which will hold the city in good stead for decades to come.
Our athletes put themselves to the test and came away with an incredible haul of medals.
It is an effort to be proud of and one which matches some of the best performances of Australia’s athletes at previous Games.
Back in 1994 the Australian team put on an incredible showing at that year’s Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada.
After winning 52 gold medals in Auckland in 1990, the team arrived and was aiming to equal or surpass the record, with hopes of scoring 10 on the first day, both in the pool and on the velodrome.
The big star of day one was Sydney student Matthew Dunn who won two gold medals on day one, alongside a dominant Kieren Perkins, Susie O’Neill and Samantha Reilly.
They were followed shortly after by Gold Coasters Andrew Baildon and Chris Fydler who contested the 100m freestyle while Brad Lambert, the baby of the team, swam in the 200m backstroke.
Local cyclists Cathy Reardon and Louise Nolan went for their second cycling gold medal in the women’s road race.
But in a devastating turn of events, Nolan was asked to sacrifice her own hopes of a medal in a bid to ensure one of her own teammates secured gold.
It was the 96km individual road race and Nolan, then 23, drew the short straw, instructed by coach Andrew Logan to scarifie her own chances by making sure the race strategies were made to order for teammate Kathy Watt.
Nolan’s orders were to force the pace from the moment the starter’s gun set the field of 22 off on the nine gruelling laps of the testing Mt Molmie circuit around the University of Victoria.
She was accompanied by Canadian Lesley Tomlinson in a breakaway that lasted for two thirds of the race, making life as uncomfortable as possible for the main bunch while Watt patiently bided her time.
The plot played out to perfection, with the bleach-blonde Victorian swooping on the two tiring kamikaze pilots with two laps to go. The win confirmed her status as the best rider in the world and a second gold medal in the event after her Auckland gold four years earlier.
Nolan and Tomlinson remained in contention for minor medals but faded to place seventh and eight respectively.
Reardon went on to finish fifth.
Watt paid tribute to the Gold Coaster in her post-race speech.
“It was a fantastic effort by Louise,” she said.
“She allowed me to sit back in the field and attack later. It worked out perfectly.”
Beaming and detailing as if she had won herself, Nolan said: “It made for hard day but it was worth it. Our plan paid off and Kathy won gold. The best bike rider won and that’s important.
“But I feel part of the gold medal too.”
Nolan later won a gold medal at the Games in the road team time trial.
Louise Nolan (far right) set up Kathy Watt’s road race gold and then shared gold with teammates (from left) Rachel Victor, Cathy Reardon and Watt in the team time trial.
Chris Fydler claimed two relay golds and a 100m freestyle silver.
Kieren Perkins won four gold medals in Victoria.