Team Scotland’s Para-Sport athletes will look to set the tone, as the Cycling competition gets underway at the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane tomorrow (Thursday 5 April).
Gold Coast 2018 will host the largest integrated Para-Sport programme in Commonwealth Games history, with the Blind & Visually Impaired (B&VI) riders first into the arena. Scotland collected medals in all four Para-Cycling events in Glasgow four years ago, and will be looking for a repeat of that success at Gold Coast.
Neil Fachie, gold medallist at the 2012 London Paralympic Games and silver medallist at Rio 2016, teams up with new pilot Matt Rotherham in the Men’s B&VI Time Trial on day one. The pair flew into the pre-Games Cycling preparation camp in Sydney via the World Para-Cycling Championships in Rio, where they delivered a stunning double gold medal winning performance. They were the only team to break the one minute barrier in the Time Trial, registering an impressive 59.6 seconds, as Fachie scooped his 11th World title. It was swiftly followed by title number 12, as the duo powered to gold in the Sprint.
Fachie said: “I’ve only really been riding with Matt since December, but we’ve come along incredibly well in that time. We can take a huge amount of confidence from our performance in Rio, mostly because our rivals here in the Gold Coast were also out in Rio, so putting in such a strong time sent out a pretty strong message.
“In order to win again we’re going to have to put in another fantastic performance will require us to execute every part of our race perfectly so it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.”
Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston, double silver medallists at Glasgow 2014, also come into the Games with high hopes, having combined to collect Time Trial silver medals at the 2017 World Championships on top of their 2014 successes. They begin their campaign in the Women’s B&VI Sprint, with their heats the first event on the Cycling programme at 14:30hrs (05:30hrs UK time).
Team Scotland’s 13-strong Track Cycling team will be in action across five days of competition with Olympic medallists Katie Archibald and Callum Skinner among those taking to the line in their first event on Friday 6 April. Skinner goes in the Men’s Keirin, while Archibald gets her Games underway with the 3000m Individual Pursuit, the event in which she collected bronze in Glasgow four years ago.
Looking back on Glasgow, Archibald said: “Four years ago, I was a very different rider and that was an incredible achievement at the time. Now I think I’d be disappointed to leave without a medal, though you can say those kinds of things and they can come back and bite you.”
Archibald also shared her delight in being back with Team Scotland, embracing the only opportunity to represent her country in a multi-sport Games, a break from her Team GB riding.
“It’s a completely different feel. Riders like my brother [John Archibald] and Kyle Gordon have taken a huge block of time off work to be here, so it’s different dynamic with them. You can sit at the dinner table more like friends on a trip rather than colleagues doing business. I noticed it especially at the Glasgow Games. I was so new to the GB set-up then, and was so intimidated by it that it felt really nice to come home to Team Scotland. And it does now too – especially now my brother’s here as well.”
Both Archibald siblings will be in Individual Pursuit action on Friday as John goes in the men’s event alongside Kyle Gordon and Mark Stewart. He has gone from strength to strength since converting from Road Cycling last year, taking British Championships gold in the Points Race on the same night that Katie won gold in the Scratch Race.
Kyle Gordon, runner-up to Archibald in last year’s Scottish Championships, will be hoping that the time granted by a six-month sabbatical from three-week rotations on the north east oil rigs helps push him into the reckoning at his first Games. It is also a first Games appearance for promising 20-year-old prospect Jack Carlin, who won silver in the Keirin at last year’s European U23 Championships, and for Jonathan Wale, silver medallist at the 2018 British Track Championships and gold medallist at the 2018 Minsk World Cup, respectively.
Neah Evans and Eileen Roe will have to wait until day three of competition to start their bid as they both line up in the Points Race alongside Katie Archibald.