Paralympics Day 2: Dramatic day at the velodrome - medals for GB but heartbreak for Jody Cundy
Defending champion denied restart after rear wheel appeared to get stuck in starting gate
A dramatic day at the Velodrome saw Mark Colbourne top yesterday’s silver medal by taking gold in the individual pursuit, one of five medals won by British riders on the track today, but there was heartbreak for Jody Cundy as a commissaires’ decision not to restart his heat after his wheel seemed to have become stuck in the starting gate cost him the chance to defend the C4-5 kilo title he had won in Beijing.
The commissaries decided not to allow Cundy, the defending Paralympic champion, a restart after his rear wheel appeared to get stuck momentarily in the starting gate as he began his heat, the last of the 22 starters.
The 34-year-old winner of two cycling gold medals at Beijing four years ago and three swimming gold prior to switching sports, immediately held his hand up to ask for the race to be restarted.
If the circumstances initially seemed similar to those four weeks ago when Team GB’s male sprinters were granted a restart on their way to winning gold here – lead man Philip Hindes appearing to admit later that he had crashed on purpose after starting badly – this time the outcome was different.
Despite the protests of his coach Chris Furber, the commissaries ruled that it was a case of rider error, the decision stunning both the crowd and Cundy, who left no-one within earshot in doubt as to his opinion of it.
"I fell out of the gate because the f*cking thing won't open. Yet here I am, I can't ride. Everybody else gets the f*cking re-ride.
"Do you know what it's like? Four years of my life. I'll never get the chance to do it. In front of a 6,000 home crowd, I'll never get this opportunity ever, ever again. Never. What am I supposed to do?"
Later, Cundy returned to the track to apologise for his reaction, although many maintained that there was nothing for which he had to excuse himself.
“I would just like to apologise; I had an issue with the gate and my wheel slipped,” he explained.
“I was hoping for a restart but it didn’t go my way unfortunately, and I didn’t get to ride and show you exactly what those 4 years of hard work in training have been about”
“I would like to apologise for my language, I think even over the noise you might have been able to hear it,” he added.
The event did produce a British medal winner, however, Jon-Allen Butterworth taking silver behind Spain’s Alfonso Cabello who set a new world record of 1.05.947.
Cundy will be back on the track tomorrow in the 4km individual pursuit, although he admitted this evening on Twitter that it is not his strongest event.
While he was coming to terms with the commissaire’s decision, Mark Colbourne was on his way to clinching Great Britain’s second gold medal on the track following Sarah Storey’s success yesterday, when Colbourne himself had won silver in the C1-2-3 1km time trial.
This morning, Colbourne had set a new world record in the qualifying session for the C1 individual pursuit, and he would set another in the final, beating China’s Li Zhang Yu, winner of that kilo event yesterday, in a time of 3:53:881.
Colbourne, who represented Wales at volleyball before a paragliding crash in 2009 left him with paralysis in his lower leg, said: “I’ve trained incredibly hard for this, and I’m just so pleased that I’ve got gold in front of a home crowd.
“It’s been a long three years working towards this and I’m thankful for all the help and support I’ve received. I just can’t believe that I’m here,” he added.
Another defending champion from four years ago, Aileen McGlynn, missed out on a third consecutive gold medal in the tandem 1km time trial.
The 39-year-old Glaswegian and her pilot Helen Scott, making her Paralympic debut in that role, took silver behind Australia’s world champions Felicity Johnson and Stephanie Morton despite the British pair having set the fastest time in qualification.
Meanwhile, there was a brace of medals for Great Britain in the men’s C3 individual pursuit, with Shaun McKeown taking silver and Darren Kenny bronze behind winner Joseph Berenyi of the United States.
Bizarrely, Kenny set a new world record in the bronze medal race, making him the fastest man ever in the event – but not one of the two who fought it out for gold today.