Commonwealth Games: Webster wins gold

By David Leggat in Glasgow

''Absolute joy." That was Sam Webster's immediate thought crossing the line for his second Commonwealth Games gold in 24 hours today.

Auckland sprinter Webster followed his team sprint victory with Eddie Dawkins and Ethan Mitchell yesterday by clinching a thrilling individual sprint, beating Olympic champion Jason Kenny of England 2-1 at the Chris Hoy velodrome.

Teammate Dawkins won the bronze rideoff against Australian Peter Lewis, thus demolishing Australia's overwhelming dominance of the solo sprint discipline.

They had won every individual Games sprint gold since 1970. Webster is New Zealand's first champion in the event.

Add in pursuit rider Marc Ryan's bronze in the 4000m IP and New Zealand have bagged five track medals in the first two days of the event.

''It's special," Webster said, with his gold draped around his neck.

Having parents James and Meren looking on added to the occasion. But his best moment?
''It's hard to say proudest. For me, I always take a huge amount of pride in the team event. But this is something I really cherish," he said.

Webster raised his arms in delight, paraded the New Zealand flag on his victory lap before turning up to the top of the track where he hugged his parents before the medal ceremony.

Webster won the bronze medal at New Delhi four years ago, beating Dawkins in the medal race. He did it again today, winning their best-of-three semifinal 2-0.

Blistering speed from the top of the track heading into the home straight on the penultimate lap had him roar past the powerful Dawkins, and he had Kenny's measure in the first leg of the final.

But the Englishman showed his mettle, nabbing the second race just before the line.
Webster sat down and had a think about that before the decider.

''There was nothing else going through my head other than empty the tanks, just dump it," Webster said.

He knew Kenny had won his semifinal against Lewis 2-1, He'd had one extra race and would tire fractionally before Webster.

''To cross that line in front of him wasn't a moment of relief. Heading in I was not willing to lose."

Dawkins reckons riding against a team mate is the hardest challenge.

''He knows everything about me. IT's hard to trick a man who knows all your weakness and strengths. It was a very hard race and he got the better of me."

Webster didn't surprise Dawkins - ''he's a very tactical, classy rider."

The pair are back tomorrow, along with Simon van Velthooven, for the keirin - ''and do a bit more damage", as the ebullient Dawkins put it.

Marc Ryan won the bronze in the 4000m individual pursuit, comfortably seeing off Welshman Owain Doull, and battling a rib injury.

Ryan fell out of his bed ''rolling the wrong way" and he's needed ''all sorts of crazy strapping" from the medical staff.

''They've done an amazing job to patch me up for three days," Ryan said.

The world championship bronze medallist from Colombia this year, clocked 4min 23.559s.

It was Timaru rider Ryan's second bronze in 24 hours, after being part of the team pursuit quartet which finished third.

''I'm not 100 percent. Before I arrived I was probably in the best nick of my life.

''Starting is the biggest problem, but during the race, when the adrenalin kicks in I don't feel it."

- NZ Herald

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