By Ian Ransom
GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) – Four years after felling English giant Jason Kenny in Glasgow, New Zealand’s Sam Webster conquered the Commonwealth again to defend his sprint gold in style at the Gold Coast Games on Saturday.
Auckland ace Webster took three sprints to stun Mancunian maestro Kenny in the nerve-shredding 2014 final but needed only two to despatch Jack Carlin, the Scottish world silver medalist, at the Anna Meares Velodrome.
Raw pace rather than tactics has been Webster’s forte but it took gut-busting grit to hold off the rising 20-year-old, who roared home in the second run only to be denied a decider by the length of a wheel rim.
Having already celebrated the team sprint gold with Edward Dawkins and Ethan Mitchell on Thursday, the 26-year-old Webster collected his fourth Commonwealth title and sixth medal dating back to Delhi in 2010.
“I knew from when I woke up — it felt like I was in a good space,” he said after hoisting his bike in triumph in front of ecstatic New Zealand fans.
“I had recovered really well from the keirin (on Friday), and then throughout my early stages of the warm-up I felt like my legs and head were in the same place.”
The event was turned on its head earlier in the day when home world champion and raging favorite Matthew Glaetzer was dumped out of the preliminaries by Malaysian rank outsider Muhammad Sahrom, the slowest of the final 16 qualifiers.
The canny Sahrom then blazed his way to the bronze-medal playoff but met his match against another Australian in Jacob Schmid.
Kaarle McCulloch, who combined with Stephanie Morton to win the team sprint gold for the hosts two nights earlier, took her second title, edging her team mate in the 500 meters time trial with a time of 53.599 seconds.
Individual sprint champion Morton lay down a searing personal best but 30-year-old McCulloch shot out with gritted teeth and pipped it by 0.058 seconds.
New Zealand’s Emma Cumming took the bronze.
Elinor Barker won gold for Wales in the 25km points race, with Scot Katie Archibald claiming silver and her second medal of the Games following her individual pursuit title on Friday.
Sam Welford, a member of the Australian team that set the 4km pursuit world record on Thursday, took gold in the 15km scratch race ahead of New Zealand runner-up Campbell Stewart and England’s Christopher Latham.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)