Strong attack earns golden glory

Corbin Strong after winning a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal in the men's 15km Scratch Race.

FOLLOWING a crash that launched a cyclist into the Birmingham crowd, Corbin Strong’s mother watched on with fingers crossed there wouldn’t be another.

So when her son crossed the finish line of the men’s 15km Scratch Race to win New Zealand’s sixth track-cycling gold medal at the Commonwealth Games early on Monday, Raewyn Strong was simply relieved.

‘‘And then it was, ‘holy, they’ve just won that!’’’

Early on in the race and with 43 laps to go, Corbin launched an attack with Scotland’s John Archibald and Wales’ William Roberts, taking the
rest of the peloton by surprise and lapping the main group of riders with 10 laps ahead of them.

His father Alan Strong said his immediate reaction was ‘‘quite subdued’’, as it was hard to tell which cyclist was which.

‘‘When they got the lap up on the field and were coming into the finishing lap, it was very hard to distinguish between one Scotsman and another, and we weren’t 100% sure when he hit the line whether that was a Scotsman he needed to beat to get gold or whether it was
somebody else. So it wasn’t until his hand was raised that we sort of got a bit excited then.’’

He said Corbin had phoned the day before and said he would have to attack the race differently with a bit more aggression than usual.

‘‘So we sort of knew what the race plan was, and it was just whether or not it was going to stick.’’

Post-race, Mrs Strong said their neighbours arrived to celebrate and they toasted the win with carrot juice.

Speaking with Corbin the following morning, they said they had time for a quick ‘‘hello and well done’’, before he got in a night’s rest ready
for the next race.

‘‘He’s pretty much just on to the next thing. He rides for a world tour team so he’s got a couple of big tours coming up and yeah, it’s pretty much just move on. Just another day at work,’’ Mrs Strong said.

A fellow keen cyclist, Mr Strong said it had been very satisfying to see Corbin and his brother Hayden, who is also cycling at a high-level abroad, perform so well.

‘‘[I’m] just so, so proud that they are happy doing what they love to do. And whether they get accolades from anywhere else, you just want the kids to be happy and so he’s certainly doing that and making us very proud in the process,’’ Mrs Strong said.

Cycling Southland development coach Glen Thompson said the win was fantastic.

‘‘He’s just such a tenacious bloke, like nothing holds him back. He went after anything that moved in that race to make sure that he didn’t miss out and he certainly didn’t in the end.’’

Former SIT Velodrome events manager Bruce Ross has overseen the progress of a number of South land cyclists, including Corbin and Hayden, and said it was remarkable watching their development.

‘‘It’s good to see how they’ve come through the ranks over the years, put in the hard work, and are now getting the resume or the accolades they deserve for the performances. Because it’s quite outstanding to compete on the world stage like that and get such good results.’’