Chloe Hosking firmly back in favour after cycling road race gold

  • ‘It’s a big fucking deal,’ says Australian after victory
  • Steele Von Hoff also wins but there is Hockeyroos disappointment

There may have been some big-name absences, but if any doubt lingered about how much the Commonwealth Games means to those who are competing on the Gold Coast this year, Chloe Hosking provided an emphatic answer after winning gold in the women’s cycling road race.

“It’s so special to win on home soil,” Hosking said. “People say for road cycling Commonwealth Games isn’t that big a deal but you know what? I’m Commonwealth Games champion and it’s a big fucking deal.”

Hosking’s win at Currumbin beachfront was perhaps even more poignant given a falling out with Cycling Australia just seven months ago threatened to derail her career. But after high performance manager Simon Jones overlooked her for last year’s world championships – a decision which was overturned on appeal – Hosking realised she needed to make some changes herself to take her career to the next level.

“It’s really the team behind the team,” she said. “In November I took a step back. There were lots of changes at Cycling Australia, it was a bit of a slap in the face, but I realised I still have lots to learn. Since then, I’ve got a nutritionist and a sports psychologist and I’ve realised I’m not an island. I need people around me to help me get to the level that I’m at.”

Her victory came before lunchtime on Saturday courtesy of a perfect Australian set-up for Hosking to sprint home at Currumbin beachfront on an uncharacteristically overcast day on the Gold Coast. The 2010 Games bronze medallist benefited from a well-executed lead-out from Tiffany Cromwell in the final sprint after a leading group of 11, including four Australians, had dropped the peloton following strong climbs in the penultimate and final laps.

“We went into the race today with a very clear plan,” she said. “We executed it to perfection. Working together, it’s just the best. Everyone backs each other and it doesn’t really matter who wins the medal as long as someone does.”

Remarkably, Hosking’s participation in the race had been in doubt just two weeks earlier after a nasty crash at the Tour of Flanders left her in hospital, but having been told she was “just being a drama queen” she quickly got back in the saddle to complete preparations for the Gold Coast Games.

Hosking’s compatriot, Steele Von Hoff, had it even worse: seven weeks ago he lay in a hospital bed after breaking six vertebrae in a racing crash in Melbourne. Incredibly, on Saturday he replicated Hosking’s feat by claiming gold in the men’s race, winning a sprint at the line ahead of Jonathan Mould of Wales and Clint Hendrinks of South Africa.

“Six days after the crash I started training again on a recumbent [training lying down],” he said. “I just wanted to get my legs spinning. “And then I thought, I have seven weeks until the Games so I’d better start training [properly].”

Von Hoff’s win, which came after time trial winner Cameron Meyer teed him up for the final sprint, gave Australia a clean sweep of all four road cycling events. Katrin Garfoot had claimed the women’s time trial earlier in the week.

The host nation’s hockey teams enjoyed differing fortunes on the penultimate day of action, with the men winning their final 2-0 but the women losing 4-1, both against New Zealand.

Aaron Kleinschmitt and Matthew Dawson scored the goals to win the gold that means captain Mark Knowles, who carried the flag at the opening ceremony 10 days ago, ends his career on a winning note and with four Commonwealth titles to his name.

But there was disappointment for the women in Labrador, where New Zealand claimed their first Commonwealth hockey gold with a resounding 4-1 win.

The relatively inexperienced Hockeyroos had not conceded a single goal in their run to the gold medal match, which included a 0-0 draw when the two sides met earlier in the competition, but with drizzle coming down at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre the floodgates finally opened.

Shiloh Gloyn got the Black Sticks on their way just before half-time before Rose Keddell and Olivia Merry opened up a 3-0 lead in the third quarter. Jodie Kenny gave hope to the home crowd but when Anita McLaren scored with just under five minutes remaining, the result was beyond salvaging.

It is the first time in four Games the Hockeyroos have failed to win gold and Savannah Fitzpatrick said she was devastated by the result. “Individually, I had two early chances so I think if I had of put those away that would have changed the game, so that hurts,” she said. “Silver seems worse than bronze sometimes.”

In rugby sevens, Australia’s men’s team was knocked out by England at the pool stage in one of the biggest shocks of the tournament. The Australians, ranked fourth in the world, lost 26-17 as England topped Pool B at Robina Stadium. “It’s tough to take, we worked hard all year for this,” captain Jesse Parahi said. “We fell off a few tackles that should have been made and gave balls away. We’re not making any excuses. This loss is harder to take when the crowd has been so fantastic.”

There were no such problems for the women’s team, who booked a semi-final on Sunday with Canada after securing top place in their group with a 17-10 win over Fiji on Saturday.

In boxing, Australia added a further three gold medals to their collection. Anja Stridsman beat England’s Paige Murney and Harry Garside defeated Manish Kaushik of India in the respective women’s and men’s 60kg finals, while Skye Nicolson won her 54-57kg final against Northern Ireland’s Michaela Walsh.

And Domonic Bedggood said he was inspired by Melissa Wu, who won the women’s 10m platform, after he claimed diving gold in the men’s event at Optus Aquatic Centre, ahead of England’s Matthew Dixon and Vincent Riendeau of Canada.

“This is the one that is the most anticipated throughout the whole diving competition and to be able to come out and do that in front of the crowd and my family and my girlfriend and everyone who has helped me to get to where I am, it’s just amazing,” he said.


Mike Hytner on the Gold Coast

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