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Liam Killeen (England)
Mountain bikers Liam Killeen and Oli Beckingsale won Commonwealth Games gold and silver in the men's...
Mountain bikers Liam Killeen and Oli Beckingsale won Commonwealth Games gold and silver in the men's individual cross country event at the baking hot Lysterfield Park on the edge of Melbourne on Thursday.
Killeen, from Malvern in Worcestershire, finished third in Manchester four years ago when he was just 20, and turned Commonwealth bronze into gold with a superb ride over the eight 6.4km laps of Victoria's State Mountain Bike Course.
Beckingsale, a 29-year-old cyclist from Bristol, also rode brilliantly as together the English pair chased down and swept past Australia's Chris Jongewaard, then shook off the challenge of the 2002 silver medallist, Canada's Seamus McGrath.
Killeen finished in 2:13:11, just 15 seconds ahead of his teammate and 32 ahead of McGrath, who took the bronze.
"It's a pretty special feeling and it hasn't completely sunk in yet," said Killeen. "I'm happy I've come here and achieved what I set out to do.
"I stuck to my plan today. I was aiming for gold throughout. The heat was a problem and for a while I stepped back a bit and took on fluid. Jongewaard built up a solid lead and I wasn't sure whether we'd be able to reel him in, but as the race moved on we could see that we were catching him up."
Beckingsale said: "I'm chuffed to bits. To get a one-two is pretty full on. I've never won anything internationally, so to win a medal is brilliant. It was a big learning curve for me today. I learned what it takes to go out there and win a medal in the big races."
Team England mountain bike coach Simon Burney was understandably delighted: "That was fantastic," he said. "We couldn't have asked or planned for better. We talked about the possibility that the Aussies would go out hard and they did. It turns out they went too fast."
In the women's event, Team England's best finisher was Amy Hunt, from Bolton, who was fourth in a time of 2:01:33. The 19 year-old, who won silver at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo in 2004, improved her position throughout the six-lap course but never managed to gain a lead.
That was left to Marie-Helen Premont of Canada who led throughout and finished with gold. Rosara Joseph of New Zealand finished with silver and Kiara Bisaro of Canada took bronze.