Athens 2004: Aussies on track; Newton disappointed

With one day of racing remaining, the Australians are proving to be the dominant force in the Olympi

With one day of racing remaining, the Australians are proving to be the dominant force in the Olympi
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Australia's track team began to hammer home their supremacy in the Olympic velodrome this afternoon (Tuesday) as Ryan Bayley emerged victorious from the fray to defeat rising star Theo Bos of Holland in the men's sprint final, while his countrywoman Anna Mears notched up another medal placing by taking bronze in the women's sprint final. In the men's points race, Russia's Mikhail Ignatyev pipped the experienced Juan Llaneras of Spain to claim Olympic gold with Germany's Guido Fulst taking bronze. It was nothing less than they deserved as each had overlapped the bunch to boost their points tally on repeated occasions. But Team GB, after their flying start to the championships with two gold medals in the first two sessions, seemed to be losing momentum as the competition schedule moved towards its final session. In the points race, Chris Newton, seemingly distracted by the developing wrangle between the BOA and the IOC over silver medals for pursuit squad members who did not ride the team pursuit final, failed to live up to his billing as a medal contender. The former double world points champion was never at ease, and struggled to hold the wheel at the back of the bunch on several occasions before throwing in the towel at the halfway point. After pausing briefly to mutter "sorry" to his team staff, the distraught Newton disappeared into the changing rooms with the British media quickly accusing him of "doing a Radcliffe". "Two days ago he felt great and we left him out of the final for the team pursuit, partly because we had such high expectations for him in the points race," Team GB endurance coach Simon Jones said. "So he's absolutely devastated - he can't explain it." Later a sheepish Newton appeared and struggled to find words for his disappointment. "I just didn't have that extra power that I normally have," Newton said. "Things were just spiralling downwards. It was an awful feeling. But if I can't race, then I don't want to ride around and make up the numbers." Some questioned Newton's frame of mind going into the race after he was left out of Monday's team pursuit, thus missing a guaranted silver medal. "Obviously I was disappointed to get the team to the pursuit final and then have nothing to show for it, but that had no bearing on what happened today," Newton insisted, "although it might have been on my mind a little bit." There is growing irritation in both the British and Australian camps that medals are not immediately awarded to all six man members of the pursuit teams, with one senior Australian official labelling the rule "disgraceful". After today's bitter disappointment, Newton will now be hoping that the IOC are in generous mood.
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