Glory for China and Britain on day two in the velodrome

Zhangyu Li notches another gold for China as he breaks world record in retaining Paralympic crown in individual pursuit competition. 10 Sep 2016
Li Zhangyu of China

Li Zhangyu of China in the Men's C1 3000m Individual Pursuit Qual, in the Rio Olympic Velodrome at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

ⒸThomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC

China were the stand-out performers in the velodrome on Friday (9 September) as they secured two of the three individual pursuit events on day two of the track cycling competition.

Great Britain also enjoyed a profitable day on the track with wins in the first time-trial events at the Rio Paralympic Games.

In the Men’s C1 pursuit, China’s Zhangyu Li, UCI World Champion and gold medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, won gold again, beating Canadian Ross Wilson in the final.

The 28-year-old, who lowered his own world record to 3 minutes 50.373 seconds during qualifying, said: “I am so happy to have won the gold medal. I am so excited at achieving my goal here in Rio. Now I want to come back for future Games and win more gold medals.”

Rounding out the podium, the Netherlands’ Arnoud Nijhuis took home the bronze medal.

In C2 class racing, Guihua Liang successfully defended his Paralympic title in the pursuit event.

In the final match-up, the 32-year-old beat Canada’s current UCI world champion Tristen Chernove by 2.859 seconds, ending up with a final time of 3 minutes 44.553 seconds. Liang dominated the qualifications, recording a time of 3 minutes 42.916 seconds – a Paralympic record.

In the bronze medal final, Briton Louis Rolfe (3 minutes 47.951 seconds) defeated Colombia’s Alvaro Galvis Becerra (+ 1.868 seconds).

In C3 racing, Australian David Nicholas snagged his first Paralympic title in the pursuit. In the final round, the 24-year-old out-raced the reigning champion of the event – American Joseph Berenyi, by 1.014 seconds – with a time of 3 minutes 33.028 seconds.

Earlier in the day during the qualifications, Nicholas lowered the Paralympic time in the C3 pursuit with a time of 3 minutes 32.336 seconds.

In the bronze medal final, Ireland’s Eoghan Clifford (3 minutes 40.201 seconds) bettered Canada’s Michael Sametz (+1.389 seconds).

The first two time-trial events at the velodrome were won by athletes from Team Great Britain.

In the men’s races, Jody Cundy finally earned a Paralympic title in the C4-5 time-trial. After a distressing loss at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the four-time UCI World Champion flew over the kilo in 1 minute 02.473 seconds: a new Paralympic record in the class.

“I was trying not to be nervous and focus on my start so much,” said the 37-year-old. “I probably didn’t get the best start, but that doesn’t matter now. All that matters is being Paralympic champion.

“I have never wanted the title more than this one after London even though I can never make up for what happened there.”

Slovakia’s Josef Metelka – silver medallist in the time-trial at the last three UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships – once again was decorated with silver, at +1.721 seconds from Cundy.

Spain’s Alfonso Cabello Llamas, London 2012 Paralympic Champion, completed the podium, and also established a new Paralympic Record of 1 minute 04.494 seconds in the C5 Class.

In Women’s racing, Great Britain’s Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott took the Tandem title, in addition to setting a Paralympic record, traversing the 1000 metres in 1 minute 06.283 seconds.

The Netherlands’ Larissa Klaassen and Haliegh Dolman earned second place and silver, at +0.776 seconds of the winners.

Thornhill and teammate Scott anxiously awaited Klassen and Dolman’s results as they rounded the track, given that the latter are world Paralympic time trial champions.

“The moment we saw they were not going to beat the time we just screamed,” said the 20-year-old Briton, who finished second at the time-trial at the most recent UCI World Championships. “There are no words to describe how happy, relieved and proud we are to win the gold medal. It’s just incredible.”

Australia’s Jessica Gallagher and Madison Janssen (+ 1.888 seconds) won the bronze medal.