COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Cyclists set wheels in motion with strong start

Robyn Stewart on show for Northern Ireland. Pic by Guy Swarbrick.
Robyn Stewart on show for Northern Ireland. Pic by Guy Swarbrick.

Northern Ireland’s cyclists finished with two Personal Best times and a top-10 placing to set in motion the Commonwealth Games challenge.

The Brisbane meeting on day two of the tournament featured Northern Ireland appearances across the track cycling, mountain biking, time trials and road racing.

Robyn Stewart recorded a competition best to finish ninth in the Women’s Sprint, with a qualifying time of 11.082 seconds for the 200m opening round. Stewart then met eighth-placed Emma Cumming from New Zealand, who bettered the Belfast sprinter on the line.

“I’m delighted with a big race PB today,” said Stewart. “The atmosphere was amazing, it was such a good day and I’m excited for the keirin now on Sunday night - there’s lots more in the tank.”

In the Individual Pursuits, Eileen Burns finished 17th with a Personal Best time of 3.42.486 – eight seconds faster than her previous record from the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

“The atmosphere in the track was amazing,” said Burns. “It was a full house of spectators and they were lifting the roof off, cheering encouragement in every race.

“My family, including my husband and sister, have made the journey over from home to watch me, so that made it even more special.

“I did a 3.50 in Glasgow so had set myself a goal of 3.40 for the Individual Pursuit – and I did 3.42.

“But I will look on the bright side and take my PB of eight seconds, I caught my competitor which helped to drive me on and I know the areas that I can improve on.”

Burns’ event was won in a Games record of 3.24.119 by multiple World Champion and Olympic Champion Katie Archibald from Scotland.

Archibald’s brother John was the silver medallist in the men’s 4km Individual Pursuit – an event which saw both Xeno Young and Marcus Christie in action for Northern Ireland.

Young won silver medals in this event as a junior at both World and European level and 14th place in Brisbane suggested a bright future with a Personal Best of 4.24.568.

Christie was 20th with 4.35.402.

Northern Ireland racing continues on Saturday with bunch races – Mark Downey, Marc Potts and Young compete in the Men’s Scratch, while Lydia Boylan lines up in the Women’s Points.

Potts is the only cyclist who will be competing across all three cycling disciplines.