Milestone achieved with gutsy team pursuit silver

Published 13 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12: Alexander Edmondson, Michael Hepburn, Callum Scotson and Sam Welsford of Team Australia competes in the Men's Team Pursuit First Round on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Velodrome on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

CYCLING: The men’s team pursuit has delivered some of the most memorable and heart stopping moments in Australian Olympic history.

That was the case again at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Friday when Australia led for all but the last few hundred metres, of the four kilometres, to be beaten by Great Britain in a new world record time.

Australian fans had their hearts skip a beat in the first round when they overpowered Denmark in the final laps to reach the gold medal race.

It is fitting then that the silver medal and Australian record performance (3:51.008) delivered somewhat of a milestone for Australian cycling as it is the 50th cycling medal at the Olympics - 45 have now come on the track.

Cycling is Australia’s third most successful sport in the Australian Olympic Team’s 120 year history behind swimming and athletics.

Australia’s first cycling medal was a bronze in the 1km time trial from Dunc Gray back at the Amsterdam Games in 1928.

The team pursuit legacy began at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles when an Australian team on inferior bikes toppled the host nation. That team of Michael Grenda, Kevin Nichols, Michael Turtur and Dean Woods started a run that has resulted in seven medals from the past nine Games.

It is one of the blue-riband events of track cycling and demonstrates not only the strength of the team but of the nation as a whole.

In Rio five men formed the team pursuit squad and pushed Great Britain all the way. They believed in themselves, put it all on the line and left nothing on the track. A group of five men that Australia can be very proud of.

Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn and Alex Edmondson (reserve) were part of the silver medal winning team in London. In Rio Callum Watson and Sam Welsford were the new young guns.

Bobridge believes Watson and Welsford will lead the team pursuit squad to gold at Tokyo in 2020.

Andrew Reid

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