After three bronze medals in the track cycling competition at the Commonwealth Games, Tara Whitten of Edmonton has crowned her competition here in Delhi with a gold medal.
On a day when the temperature on the pavement was over 40 degrees, Whitten captured first place in the final road event, the 29km individual time trial. For this event, riders race individually against the clock, starting at one-minute intervals.
On such a hot day, at her first major Games, Whitten reserved enough energy to win the event against a competitive field.
“I wondered about energy and the heat,” said Whitten, “All riders worked hard with ice towels, ice vests and ice chairs to keep our core temperatures down.”
When the race began, Whitten started the race with ice on her back to help keep her cool. At the 10km mark of the 29km race, Whitten’s time was 11.20. At the 19km point, her time was 23.55 and she finished the race with a time of 30.59.3, five seconds faster than her closest competition.
Whitten knew that after competing in five cycling events in Delhi, if she was going to give her all, today was the day.
“I was excited that it would be my last event,” said Whitten during media scrums following the race. “I wanted to give my all; this is the event I have been training hardest for.”
Whitten won the gold medal with New Zealand’s Linda Villumsen capturing silver and England’s Julia Shaw winning bronze.
Whitten’s average speed for the race was 44.628 km/hour. Throughout the race, she said she felt good, but was not sure if her time was ahead.
“It was hard to tell because we don’t have radios anymore,” said the gold medallist. “Because they are phasing the radios out, it is just you and the road.”
Also competing today in the time trial events were Erinne Willock (Victoria, BC) who placed 11th, and Julie Beveridge (Calgary, AB) who placed 13th. For the men, the individual time trial distance was 40km. Zach Bell of Watson Lake YK placed 7th, and Ryan Roth, of Kitchener, ON placed 10th .
Amazingly, Whitten, the 2010 World Champion in the points race, only started racing competitively in cycling in 2007, and competes in road cycling as well as on the track. At the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Whitten won bronze in the 25km points race, the team sprint with partner Monique Sullivan, the 3,000m individual pursuit and a gold in the road time trial.
“It has been really busy and challenging here in Delhi,” said Whitten after completing her sixth race to win gold. “I guess I saved the best for last.”