A DAY after being forced into submission by the Aussie sporting machine, yesterday it was Charlie Tanfield’s turn to sweep all comers aside as he powered to individual pursuit glory at the Commonwealth Games.
Australia set a new team pursuit world record on Thursday and when Sam Welsford backed that up with a new Commonwealth Games record early on in the individual pursuit qualifying it looked like being a day of more home success.
But that record quickly fell, first beaten by New Zealand’s Dylan Kennett and then Scotland’s John Archibald as the favourable conditions and lightning fast Anna Meares Velodrome track bore witness bore witness to one of the best pursuit qualifying sessions of all time.
Tanfield was unmoved, though. Waiting calmly in the wings for the final qualifying heat – a luxury afforded to him after proving his worth with a World Cup win in Minsk earlier this year.
The 21-year-old from Great Ayton knew a special ride was needed just to make the medal rides and he duly delivered, clocking 4:11.455 – within a second of Aussie Jack Bobridge’s long-standing world record – to qualify fastest and break Archibald’s short-held record by more than 1.6s.
An all-British final ensued in the evening session and while neither rider could back up their times in the final, the order remained the same and Tanfield’s time of 4:15.952 was enough to secure gold by 0.704s.
It’s absolutely epic. I couldn’t have asked for any more.Charlie Tanfield
“It’s absolutely epic. I couldn’t have asked for any more,” proclaimed the Yorkshireman.
“I knew I was in a good place after the qualifying. Towards the end of the final I thought I messed up for a second but I managed to hold on and I’m absolutely ecstatic with the win.
“I didn’t see the time coming in qualifying. I saw all my main rivals had catches in their qualifiers and that helps, it gives you maybe a second-and-a-half, maybe more.
“I knew going into it that I wasn’t going to get a catch so I was thinking I would have to just go full gas and hope for the best.
“And that was the output so I was so happy with it.”
A succession of records have been set, and then broken, so far in Brisbane as the warm temperatures and new track make for quick racing.
And although the cooler evening temperatures meant Tanfield knew a shot at Bobridge’s record was never on the cards for the final, he is not ruling it out in the future.
“I wasn’t going for the world record this evening because I knew the conditions would be slower,” he said.
“But during the earlier ride I could hear the commentator saying I was on world record splits and I didn’t even look at the lap board until two laps to go because I was just focussing on my ride.
“I just missed out with 500m to go I just fell off the splits and hit a wall a bit, but I’m getting closer so that’s good. You never know with a world record, ultimately I want to win races, records depend on conditions so I don’t know what the future holds. For now I can just give it my best shot and just see what happens.”
The win for Tanfield caps a remarkable run of results that have seen him go from relative track novice just two years ago to national team pursuit champion, World Cup winner in both the team and individual events, world champion in the team pursuit and now Commonwealth silver medallist in the team and champion in the individual.
Not bad for an amateur rider who may live in Derby now with his band of apprectices, but retains his Yorkshire roots by taking coaching instruction from pro expert Craig Stevenson at Harrogate company Vitfor.
Tanfield said: “It’s unbelievable and I think two years ago, when I went to Nationals as my first time riding on the track since I was 15 or 16 my ultimate goal was to get to the Commonwealth Games.
“But I think I’ve achieved a bit more than that now, it’s obviously unbelievable.”
Tanfield has worked his way into the Great Britain and England teams thanks to his rides with amateur outfit Team KGF, and he was delighted to see some familiar faces in Brisbane. He said: “There’s me, Jonny Wale, John Archibald, my brother Harry, and Ethan Vernon. So it’s great to share results with your teammates, it makes it a bit better.”
Illness and a relentless schedule eventually caught up with Leeds’ Katy Marchant after she suffered a surprise defeat in the sprint. Illness laid her low for the first few days after landing in Australia and she still appears to be suffering the effects losing in the quarter-finals of the team sprint. “Since October, when we went to the European Championships in Berlin, I’ve done five days of racing on the trot pretty much every week since then,” she said.
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