Barker ends 30-year wait in velodrome for Wales
Elinor Barker proved the benefit of rest to put in a dominant performance that secured Wales’ first Commonwealth Games track cycling title for almost 30 years.
Barker, an Olympic team pursuit champion, had chosen not to take part in either of the pursuit races earlier in the week and her fresher legs showed, as she stole a lap midway through the women’s 25km points race to vault to the top of the standings, before holding on to win gold.
“I think it’s more the fresh legs within the race,” said Barker, a former world champion in the event. “I didn’t contest any of the first four sprints because I really wanted to take a lap.
“I’ve been studying races and watching for signs of when people are struggling a little bit.”
Barker’s victory forced Scotland’s Katie Archibald to settle for silver, while her Scottish team-mate Neah Evans made it an all-British podium with bronze.
Amid a host of other medals for the home nations in the velodrome, there were two impressive victories in the blind and visually impaired (B&VI) events. Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott won gold for England in the women’s B&VI 1000m time trial, breaking their own world record and adding to their earlier sprint gold. Scottish pair Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham also picked up their second gold of the Games in the men’s B&VI sprint.
Elsewhere, the Brownlee brothers went some way towards making up for their unexpected disappointments in the individual triathlon by winning the team relay silver behind Australia.
Alistair, who was joined by brother Jonny, Vicky Holland and Jess Learmonth in the English team, failed to catch the home favourites, as he struggled with a calf injury on the final leg.
The double Olympic champion admitted he knew before arriving that he was not in shape to challenge for gold. “It’s been a tough month, every day I’m waking up and being worried about the calf,” Alistair said.
“I’ve had to deal with it and, being on the start line for the first time ever knowing I’m not going to win the race, was pretty tough. A few months ago I would have been in a brilliant position to come here and be really fit and win.”
Afterwards the 29-year-old remained undecided whether or not to continue to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
England’s Jack Oliver took weightlifting silver in the men’s 77kg class, while there were shock defeats for the leading members of the English squash contingent, when defending men’s champion Nick Matthew and top women’s seed Laura Massaro both crashed out in the quarter-finals.
Vindication: Elinor Barker celebrates gold in the points race after choosing to sit out pursuit events