Australia's cyclists have netted five medals on the opening day of racing at the velodrome with Canberra's Sue Powell claiming our first gold medal of the 2012 London Paralympic Games campaign in the C4 3km individual pursuit.
Kieran Modra and pilot Scott McPhee claimed the next one when they defeated compatriots Bryce Lindores and pilot Sean Finning in the 4km tandem pursuit final. Simone Kennedy of Sydney collected silver in the combined C 1-3 pursuit and Alex Green raced away with a bronze medal in the C4 pursuit.
Powell launched her campaign for gold with a blistering qualifying ride of 4:03.306 that knocked two seconds of the previous world record but Powell had no idea she was riding as fast as she was until after the ride.
"I was just following my coach (National Coach - Peter Day)," she explained. "The plan this morning and this afternoon was to just control it so when he told me to give more I thought 'Oh God, I must be down,' so I thought 'gotta give more, gotta give more'.
In the final Megan Fisher (USA) took an early lead but Powell raced to plan and came home strongly to win the crown in a time of 4:05.200, two seconds quicker than her rival.
"It's amazing, still not sinking in I think," said Powell. "I didn't dare dream this would happen."
Powell, 45, didn't go into the event as favourite, with team mate Green, 25, defeating her for gold at the world championships in February in Los Angeles.
"I think after Los Angeles I wondered if I could still do it," said Powell. "I went a lot slower than I had before and had to go home and think about it. With my coach (State Coach - Glenn Doney) I just sat down and started again and basically worked really, really hard and it just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it really."
Powell came into the sport after sustaining an injury playing hockey and says her attitude and application have played a key role in her success.
"I've always been good at sport and if I've put my mind to something I've generally gone okay at it," she said. "It's a lovely sport to be involved in, I just really really enjoy going out riding. That's what got me involved and I think that's what keeps me involved. When this is all over you'll probably find me out racing masters and racing club and just enjoying being on my bike."
Green for her part admits she felt the pressure going into the event..
"I'm a bit relieved that I could grab a medal," said the mechanical engineering student. "The pressure was definitely on in the bronze medal ride off (because) if you win it's a great feeling, (but) you lose and you're so close to a medal."
Green clipped two seconds off her personal best time in qualifying but narrowly missed making the gold medal final.
In the bronze medal ride off against Canada's Marie-Claude Molnar she was almost five seconds faster. She then cheered for Powell.
"That's so good I'm so happy for Sue, she's worked so hard, oh gosh I'm almost crying that's so good," said Green as Powell crossed the fininsh line. "So cool, first gold, that's wonderful.
"We don't train together but we definitely race each other. She's my biggest competition and she definitely pushes me, so it's really nice to see her succeed today," said Green. "But hopefully next time I can get her."
In the individual pursuit for riders in the C1-3 classification, China's Zeng Sini rode a world record in qualifying to set up a showdown with Sydney teenager Simone Kennedy, 18. Zeng triumphed but Kennedy, who knocked a whopping six seconds off her personal best in qualifying, was thrilled with her Paralympic debut performance.
"I can't believe it, it's my first Games, first event," said Kennedy. "It's a dream come true."
The men's tandem pursuit was the final event of the night and it was an all-Australian affair. South Australian Modra, 40, who won the event in Beijing and Athens, lined up with pilot Scott McPhee, 20, against Queenslander Bryce Lindore and pilot Sean Finning.
The fact Modra, contesting his seventh Paralympic Games, was even on the start line was testament to his immense stamina and drive. In December last year he broke two vertebrae in his neck and one in his lower spine after colliding with a car and at that stage there was doubt he would ride again.
"I would say that it wouldn't have come together," said Modra after he and McPhee shaved 24 thousandths of a second off their own world record to win the gold medal. "Lying in a hospital bed with a neck brace on, (doctors) saying you can't move for a week (meant) wondering how I'm gonna go in London, that question, went straight out of the window.
"(I thought) no coming back from that."
But with support from the South Australian Sports Institute and McPhee he regained fitness and form.
"SASI put me back together bit by bit and monitored me to make sure I didn't push myself too hard," said Modra. "Scott has been able to bring the best out of me. We have come together in a closer knit since the accident.
"He's really supported my progress and helped me though the rehabilitation stage," he said. "Anyone else I might not have been able to do it so Scott has done a really good job."
McPhee says the accident brought the pair closer together.
"We've been together for 18 months but we had a four month separation when 'Mods' was in hospital with a broken back," explained McPhee. "He looks indestructable but he isn't really indestructable.
"That accident made us work really hard and with each other as a team for the past eight months."
Modra says team with McPhee, who is half his age, provided the motivation for his 2012 London campaign.
"I would never have conceived I would have been able to do it (again) but you take it one day at a time and try and reinvent yourself and exercise the idea of 'can I win it again, what can I do different?', he explained. "I think it's the challenge and enthusiasm he brings to the bike that gets me revved up to think maybe we can do this.
"He's been a great inspiration for me."
But Modra, who with McPhee will also contest the kilometre time trial on the track and both the time trial and road races at Brands Hatch, says this will be his final Paralympic campaign.
"I don't think Scott could handle me any longer," Modra laughed. "Team dynamics have gone through a lot of trauma the last 18 months. It's quite a feat."
Meantime Lindores and Finning didn't let Modra's record intimidate them.
"I was pretty excited because it was Australia versus Australia," said Lindores. "It's a good rivalry we have with the other guys and we've been training with them for the past two or three weeks in Newport.
"On the track it's a not so friendly rivalry but off the track we're good friends."
Lindores said the noise levels during today's racing was overwhelming.
"It was absolutely crazy," he said. "The coach was giving me the calls and (only) every second or third lap I could hear the call. I could here 11, nine. It was crazy but absolutely awesome and it got us over the line and helped us pull out that little bit more you need when you're hurting."
The pair have come to the Games having not raced together for more than 12 months.
"It was quite nervewracking," said Lindores. "We didn't know what we were capable of. It was a bit of an unknown out there which I suppose can be a good thing,
"We just wanted to go out and do our best and we did a PB by three seconds to qualify for the final so really happy with how it went," he said.
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