Scotland put on a great games! No doubt about it, the sun shone like never before. It was actually bloody hot at times and even the queen wasn’t wearing a cardigan on her lunch date to the food hall.
The media did try to play down the games and for sure they are a tier below the Olympics with the smaller number of Countries involved; but the competition is just as fierce and just as hard to win the Commonwealth title. The velodrome was the place to be as always – the events are always exciting to watch and it was a great arena to race in from the atmosphere created from the crowd.
Being part of the Commonwealth Games opened my eyes up to all the countries there are in this world that we hardly ever hear about. These guys wouldn’t have much of a chance qualifing into the Olympics so it was pretty cool seeing how they talk, act, and represent their countries. Who knew that Mauritios, Saint Lucia, Faulkland Islands, Bahamas, Brunei, Ghana, Malawei, St Kitts and Nevis had bloody good sports teams and most of them even on the track and road.
The Sir Chris Hoy velodrome is a Ralph Schurmann track as is the one in Cambridge but this one had really long straights which allowed for great close racing in all the events. On the first day our Team Sprint was in great form, qualifying fastest and then going on to win the final against England. It shows that the new centralised velodrome is how you create champions. Butting heads in the gym and on the track every day is where you make the gains that allow you to become world beaters.
The second day was the Match Sprint which Sam and Eddie both won medals with fine displays of tactical racing and a bit of Mongrel. Kilometre TT was scheduled for the third day. This was the event I targeted 16 months ago to try a win. A Silver medal was my reward to a whole lot of hard training and mental preparation. Scott Sunderland was a machine that day and rode a great sea level time. Unfortunately my PB was 0.20 of second quicker than what he did and I was hoping to better my PB but it just wasn’t to be that day.
(photo courtesy of NZOC)
My build up had been going awesome until a crash in Japan in early June, I didn’t think it was that bad other than a huge haematoma on my hip, a very sore ankle, and a bruised ego. However my ankle never seemed to come right in the gym or during training. During important efforts and racing I didn’t feel it because you’re in the zone, but it’s not a nice thing to have playing on your mind leading into a major competition and some of the more important sessions were replaced with rehab to ensure I could start on the day. Continued physiotherapy will fix the bloody thing, it just needs to work out by itself that it is ok and only a little nerve damage.
The next day in the racing schedule was the Keirin which Eddie, Sam, and I were to race. The first round went Ok but I just didn’t have the normal twang in my legs. I’m not sure if it was because of the Kilo the night before or what, but the pistons just were not firing like usual… Maybe this is why people don’t like to ride Kilo’s because they hurt too much when you ride them – and the days following it. Sam and Eddie both rode great and after making the final were rewarded with a Silver and 6th place.
All in all it was a great games for Bike with a record breaking medal haul. We have a lot of people to thank in NZ – but I believe the most benefit this nation has had is from the indoor velodrome being built in Invercargill back in 2005 and now the new centralised program and new velodrome we have in Cambridge. Success breeds success and for sure there will be some exciting times ahead on the boards.
For now I am back to business in Japan racing the Keirin league. Sorry for the lateness of this newsletter – it’s been full on setting up in Japan and we aren’t able to have laptops or other electronic devices during lockdown which has added to the delay.
JKA have loaded us up with a heap of races so I will be locked away for most the time in various tracks around Japan. For you that know Japan, since being back I’ve raced Iwaki-Taira in the Fukushima prefecture. I’ve just finished up racing Ogaki (which is next to Nagoya) and had a great result there taking the win. Next is Fukui on the west coast of Japan so that will be a bit of a hike… And then in September I will be racing in Hiratsuka which is near Tokyo and then back down to Kyoto to finish what will be hopefully a great season!
Simon van Velthooven
New Zealand Sprint Cyclist
World, Commonwealth, Olympic Medalist
Proud Volkswagen Ambassador