Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Commonwealth Games organisers apologise to England tandem team fined by UCI for bronze medal protest

Sophie Unwin and Georgia Holt finished third in Friday’s tandem B sprint but were not awarded medals as only four teams took part

The Commonwealth Games Federation has apologised to England’s tandem B sprint team Sophie Unwin and Georgia Holt after the pair failed to receive bronze medals despite finishing third in Friday’s event, won by Australia’s Jessica Gallagher and Caitlin Ward.

Unwin, a silver and bronze medallist on the road and track at last summer’s Paralympics in Tokyo, and her pilot Holt beat Scotland’s Libby Clegg and Jenny Holl (who partnered Unwin for those two Paralympic medals as well as a world championship win in 2021) in what had been billed as a bronze medal race.

However, despite the big screens inside the Lee Valley VeloPark velodrome informing the riders and spectators that Team England were medal winners, Unwin and Holt were soon left in tears after being told that they would not, in fact, receive a medal for their third-place finish.

Sophie Unwin and pilot Georgia Holt, 2022 Commonwealth Games (Will Palmer,

Will Palmer/

According to the competition’s rules, bronze medals will not be awarded in races which have four entries. Five teams were originally scheduled to compete in the event, but only four took to the track, bringing the rule into force.

It seems, however, that the procedural change was poorly communicated to the racers as well as to staff inside the velodrome, who initially told Unwin and Holt to cut short their post-race interviews in order to attend the podium ceremony.

After being informed of the change, a tearful Unwin and Holt stood behind the podium holding an England flag as the medals were awarded to the Australian and Scottish teams, before they were moved on by security personnel.

They later posed for photographs on the empty podium with medals borrowed from England team-mates Laura Kenny and Josie Knight, prompting a round of applause from the crowd inside the velodrome.

Following their protest, the UCI fined Unwin, Holt and England team manager Keith Reynold 200 Swiss Francs (£172) each for their “failure to respect the instructions of the commissaire/organiser”.

Team England has since appealed to the Commonwealth Games Federation to overturn the medal decision, with the issue discussed at a CGF board meeting on Saturday morning. However, the Guardian has reported that the decision not to award the medals will stand.

Nevertheless, the CGF has apologised to Unwin and Holt for the “distress” caused by the incident.

“In the small number of cases where there are fewer than five entries in a Commonwealth Games event, the CGF applies a medal allocation policy to maintain the integrity of competition,” a spokesperson said.

“The policy – which was published in January this year – states that only gold and silver medals are awarded where there are only four contestants; and only gold medals where there are only three or two contestants.

“Unfortunately, while the athletes in the women’s tandem B sprint event were informed of this before the race, the scoreboard and results sheet incorrectly indicated that it was a bronze medal race. We apologise to the athletes involved for the inadvertent distress this has caused.”

According to the BBC, a volunteer at the Games, Kate Goodchild, who was due to present the England pair with their bronze medals, complained to officials about their “unjust treatment”. Goodchild claims she was then told that she would not be allowed to take part in any more medal ceremonies, prompting her to quit as a volunteer.

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

Add new comment


robike | 1 year ago
1 like

Seems incorrect to me - there were 5 entrants "... Five teams were originally scheduled to compete..."   The report doesn't mention that they had formally withdrawn their entry.  When a race is about to run the first part is getting to the start on time - if one of the entrants failed, that's their bad luck.

I think they came 3rd out of 5.

AlsoSomniloquism replied to robike | 1 year ago

They didn't not turn up on the day, it seems they other team (whoever it was) didn't turn up for the games themselves. They had scheduled them races as a qualifier (top four went through even though only the four there), some semi final matches to confirm placings in the medal matches and then the medal matches. So essentially between the games officials AND UCI officials there, the message hadn't gone out that a Bronze wouldn't be awarded under those rules over the two days they knew about it until the very last second. 

sparrowlegs | 1 year ago

Fucks sakes. So not only do they not get a deserved medal, they have to pay the twats at the UCI £172 each because they, rightly, performed a small act of defiance? They should have glued their hands to the 3rd place on the podium. 

OldRidgeback | 1 year ago

Just give them the medal.

Rendel Harris | 1 year ago

Correct application of an overly harsh rule. The athletes will have been training for years and years for this event in the expectation that they will get a medal if they make the podium, they have no control over how many other people enter. They fulfilled their side of the bargain, they qualified, turned up and made the top three, give 'em the medal!

Latest Comments