GLASGOW (AFP) — Linda Villumsen claimed a historic 600th Commonwealth Games medal for New Zealand in Glasgow on Thursday as she raced to gold in the women’s time trial.
New Zealand becomes the fourth Commonwealth Games country to reach that total after Australia, England, and Canada.
Villumsen banished the memory of New Dehli, where she had to settle for silver four years ago, to finish in a time of 42:25.46 over the 29.6km course.
“It is just incredible; it’s something I’ve worked hard for over the last four years now,” said the 29-year-old, who was second in last year’s world championships. “Every year at the Olympics or the world championships I am always nearly there but missing something. I came here thinking that it could happen again, but today finally everything worked out from start to finish, so I’m really happy.”
England’s Emma Pooley, who was recently crowned the British national champion for a third time, finished in second place, just six seconds behind Villumsen. Australia’s Katrin Garfoot took the bronze with host nation Scotland’s Katie Archibald, a world champion on the track, finishing in fifth.
Villumsen, who represented Denmark at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing before gaining New Zealand citizenship in 2009, has consistently won medals on the road for the past five years and was among the favorites to claim the title.
However, with 10km to go, Villumsen trailed Pooley by eight seconds before the New Zealand rider upped the tempo in the final 2km to clinch gold.
“I didn’t have any idea I was trailing — sometimes it is better not to know,” Villumsen, who refuses to wear heart rate monitors or receive time checks from her coaches, said. “I pretty much ride as fast as I can for as long as I can and that’s it.”
For England’s Pooley it was a final TT before retiring from cycling to concentrate on triathlon and marathon running.
“It was close, but I’m happy to be on the podium, there was nothing I could have done any better,” the silver medalist said. “I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to compete for so long, and am grateful to those who have supported me over the past seven or eight years. To get a medal today tops everything.”
Katrin Garfoot, who started riding only four years ago after she married coach Chris Garfoot and moved from Germany to Australia, only gained Australian citizenship last year.
“I am very excited. It means a lot to win a Commonwealth Games medal for Australia,” Garfoot said. “Since I met my husband, I always wanted to ride for Australia. I dreamed of a medal but only hoped for the top-10. This makes it all so worthwhile, all the hard work, fighting and all the tears.”