Joanna Rowsell (England) likened it to winning the Olympic Games, after taking an impressive gold medal in the individual pursuit on the second night of the track programme at the Commonwealth Games. Since 2008, the individual pursuit has not been part of the Olympic Games after they decided to remove it in favour of events such as the Omnium.
After taking the world title in February, Rowsell was chomping at the bit to test her legs against the best in Glasgow. “Ever since the Olympics I have been thinking about this event,” she said after stepping on the podium to huge roars from the crowd. “After the Olympics it was the thought of the Commonwealth Games that really spurred me on.
“For me, this is like the Olympics for this event because this event isn’t in the Olympics any more so I’m really pleased.”
Rowsell was in commanding form right from the off, setting a personal best time that was more than a second faster than her previous. The time locked her into first place and a shot at the gold medal, against Australia’s Annette Edmondson. The Australian had a better start but it was only a matter of laps before Rowsell was in her element and putting time into Edmondson. It was a commanding performance from the English rider.
“I’m really glad that I’ve managed to peak on the right day. I think I’m a master of peaking at the right time. I seem to be able to manage to peak on the right day,” she said grinning from ear to ear.
“I think it was a little bit cooler than it was for the qualifying ride. The qualifying ride was over a second faster than my personal best that I set in Cali, which is semi altitude. To get the PB and to get the Commonwealth record is really special.”
British Cycling has always been about the Olympic cycle and events that don’t come under the Olympic programme often fall by the wayside. When the kilometre time trial was removed after 2004, Chris Hoy made a dramatic shift to the Kerin and never raced the event again. When the individual pursuit was taken away, Bradley Wiggins left the track altogether and decided to focus on the road.
While her main focus is the team pursuit, Rowsell still harbours big ambitions in the individual event. The women’s team pursuit doesn’t feature at the Commonwealths, giving Rowsell an opportunity to apply herself wholly to her favourite event. “I won the world title in the IP at the world championships earlier this year off the back of just team pursuit training. So it was really nice to train just for the individual pursuit and do some specific work for it,” she explained.
“This is the biggest event of the summer for me. I had the world championships in February, which were a big goal for me and ever since I’ve been training for this event. Everything I’ve done in between has been preparing for this.”
Now the focus turns to helping her teammates in the team pursuit Dani King and Laura Trott as they look to take medals in the points and scratch races. However, the road events will give Rowsell another shot at personal glory in the time trial. The course is more undulating than the one that she took her national title on in Glasgow, but she will go in as one of the favourites for a medal next Thursday.