Commonwealth Games: Shanks wins women's individual pursuit

gVictory for Kiwi; Northern Ireland's Houvenaghel second, Whitten of Canada third

Alison Shanks of New Zealand lived up to expectations when she held off a strong field to claim the Commonwealth Games gold medal in the women's 3,000m individual pursuit today.

Shanks, the favourite going into the final after easily qualifying fastest, picked up to an electrifying pace to reel in arch rival Wendy Houvenaghel of Northern Ireland, in a rematch of the 2009 world championships final which Shanks also won.

"This means a lot, it really does," said Shanks. "This week was really my last chance to step up and go for an individual (Commonwealth) medal. I feel really privileged to grab the first gold and here's hoping there are a few more coming."

The 27-year-old was fourth at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and repeated that result at the Olympics two years ago.

Houvenaghel, a silver medallist at the 2008 Olympics, was commanding the race at the halfway stage but couldn't live with her opponent's power in the final laps as Shanks streaked away to finish in 3min 30.875sec. The silver was a big result for Northern Ireland -- their best ever medal in cycling at the Games.

Tara Whitten of Canada was an easy winner in the bronze medal race with a time of 3:35.810, crossing the line four seconds quicker than New Zealand's Jaime Nielsen.

© AFP 2010

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