Matt Glaetzer admits he may have had his final race at the Commonwealth Games – but believes it couldn’t have ended in a more glorious or unexpected gold.
Australia’s top sprinter won his record-breaking fifth title at the Games in Monday’s 1km time trial – and had to do it the hard way.
Less than 48 hours after his horrific crash at the London Olympic Velodrome, which required him to cut his elbow to remove splinters, the Adelaide airman was faced with the huge disadvantage of having to ride a bike with different handlebars for safety reasons .
Even he felt he couldn’t win if he had to adopt a less aerodynamic position with sprint bars instead of pursuit aero bars, but produced one of his great rides to successfully defend his four-round title.
Last up was Glaetzer in 59.505s, while Australian silver medalist Tom Cornish went head to hands after the three-time Australian champion previously clocked a potential winning time of 1’00.036.
Matt Richardson, Australia’s sprint gold medalist, was fourth.
“It’s going to be a very big stretch to do more Commonwealth Games so that was more than likely my last Games ride – and to take gold for Australia is special,” said Glaetzer after breaking Anna Meares’ record in Australian cycling of five Commonwealth Golds.
“It’s becoming a habit for me at the Commonwealth Games to have to overcome adversity. It really is something special.
“I’d rather not have the lows to recover from, but it’s a testament to the challenges we all face that there’s always a new day and we can always try,” the man added , who overcame thyroid cancer and serious injuries to remain a soldier for the past two years.
Glaetzer was cruelly denied a medal in the sprint on Sunday after being dismounted for unfair driving after winning the bronze medal race.
He revealed that all three Australians had only been told four days before leaving for the games that they would have to use sprint bars because they were concerned their performance could damage the aero bars.
At last year’s Tokyo Olympics, AusCycling had to apologize for a catastrophic equipment failure when Alex Porter ended up with facial injuries after crashing headfirst onto the track after snapping handlebars in team pursuit qualifying.
The governing body had said in a statement earlier Monday that their riders would need to use drop handlebars, which would result in “slightly slower times” but was a safety necessity.
But Glaetzer made it easy for himself.
“It cost us a second out there – I knew I had to do a 59 to win it and that hasn’t been done by me on sprint bars yet so it was new territory and I’m just super happy,” he said .
“It was pretty much last minute when we found out. We couldn’t control it. But we’d rather play it safe and not break anything or hurt our arm if something goes wrong, so we took it.”
On the final day of the track program, Glaetzer became the eighth gold won by the Australians and their 13th overall – the same tally as New Zealand – as they maintained their record of topping the track medal table for the eighth consecutive year.