Australia has celebrated a golden finish to the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Los Angeles winning the tandem sprint and two bronze medals on the fourth day of racing.
South Australians Felicity Johnson and pilot Stephanie Morton added a second gold medal to their tally while Canberra's Sue Powell and Victorian Michael Gallagher claimed bronze medals in their respective C4/C5 women's and men's scratch races.
The results gave the team a final medal tally of eight gold, three silver and two bronze medals to put them second on the medal table behind Great Britain who also won eight gold but claimed seven silver and two bronze medals.
Johnson and Morton set a world record on Friday to win the kilometre time trial and went into today's sprint competition as the world record holders for the flying 200 metres (set in Melbourne in December).
Today they qualified second fastest in a time of 11.560 behind British pair Aileen McGlynn and pilot Helen Scott (11.506) and both teams won through the semi finals into a finals showdown.
In the first of the best of three medal rides the Australians drew the bottom of the track and when they attacked from the front the Brits couldn't match their pace.
In the second heat it was the British tandem that led out with Scott steering a path designed to block the Australians every move. But their tactic proved futile because when Morton and Johnson accelerated they had too much power for the Brits coming past them high on the track to take the win and the gold medal.
"I was hoping to come up against the Brits because they're the closest to us in time and quite experienced sprinters because they sprint up against the boys and we don't get that opportunity so I was really looking forward to doing that especially," said Johnson after the second ride. "It wasn't a smooth ride but it was also a progressive acceleration so even though we were zig-zagging all over the place the speed was increasing as we were going.
"It was a bit of a wild ride on the back and you just had to hang on and hope for the best," she explained. "Steph rode exceptionally because we haven't practised sprinting before so she was really thrown in the deep end and a tandem is a very different beast from a single bike. It's a lot longer and not as responsive so we did really well."
Morton for her part was thrilled to collect a second rainbow jersey after switching from single bike sprinting to tandem to pilot Johnson.
"Being a pilot there is so much more pressure because you are steering and all the moves are in your hands," said Morton who despite that dealt well with the British blocking manoeuvres.
"I wasn't too bothered because that's part and parcel of sprint racing," she explained. It's not just whoever at the front who wins. Actually I was expecting a bit more bumpety-bumpety so it didn't phase me at all.
In the C4/C5 women's scratch race Powell recovered from a mid race crash to rejoin the field and sprint home in third place behind winner Greta Neimanas of the USA and Kiwi Fiona Southorn. Fellow Australian Alexandra Green placed sixth. She collected a sizeable splinter in the crash which was later removed by the event doctor.
In the men's event Gallagher went on the attack early taking two other riders with him to lap the field and set up a three man race. Unfortunately for him some confusion at the end saw the trio lap the field again rejoining the end of the bunch as they sprinted for the finish line. The win went to the Ukraine's Yehor Dementyev with Italy's Andrea Tarlao edging out Gallagher for the silver medal.
Cycling Australia Para-cycling Performance Director, Peter Day, says he's very pleased with the overall performances from the team.
"We came here knowing what we wanted to happen and the results came as a consequence but from my point of view the riders who did get results did what we thought they'd do so that's pleasing," said Day.
Australia came into the event having qualified close to the maximum number of places for the Paralympic Games in London but this week's performances might deliver additional places.
"The results have been superb, excellent, so we now have the potential for another male and another female spot," said Day. "Until they are allocated later this month we won't know but coming here and performing as well as they did it's our benchmark towards hopefully where we'll be in London.
"Results are a bonus, the icing on the cake if you like, and a reward for the athletes for all the work they have done but we mustn't lose sight of the fact it's the performances that count."
Thirty three nations contested the championships in a bid to claim qualifying points to secure starting places at the Paralympic Games.
Australia's team for the Paralympic Games will be nominated to the Australian Paralympic Committee next month.
- Simone Kennedy - C3 women's 500m time trial
- Bryce Lindores and pilot Scott McPhee - B tandem 4km pursuit
- Felicity Johnson and pilot Stephanie Morton - B tandem 1km time trial
- Michael Gallagher - C5 4km individual pursuit
- David Nicholas - C3 3km individual pursuit
- Simone Kennedy - C3 women's 3km individual pursuit
- Alexandra Green - C4 women's 3km individual pursuit
- Felicity Johnson and pilot Stephanie Morton - B tandem sprint
- Sue Powell C4 500m time trial
- Sue Powell - C4 women's 3km individual pursuit
- David Nicholas - C3 men's kilometre time trial
- Sue Powell - C4/C5 women's scratch race
- Michael Gallagher - C4/C5 men's scratch race
The Para-Cyclones for the 2012 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships are listed below:
- Alexandra Green (Balgowlah Heights, NSW 02.07.1987) C4
- Felicity Johnson (Melrose Park, SA, 30.05.1971) BW (defending time trial world champion)
- Simone Kennedy (Ryde, NSW 05.01.1994) C3
- Kerry Knowler (Phillip ACT, 26.08.1967 ) WPI - Pilot for O'Connor
- Claire McLean (Carlisle WA, 04.07.1973) C5
- Stephanie Morton (Moana Heights, SA, 28.11.1990) WPI - Pilot for Johnson (defending time trial world champion)
- Brandie O'Connor (Phillip ACT, 24.12.1973) BW
- Jayme Paris-Richardson (Quakers Hill NSW, 27.04.1989) C1
- Susan Powell (Melba ACT, 30.05.1967) C4 (defending pursuit world champion)