London ball

Wood banishes disease to win Commonwealth silver

Ollie Wood was proud to shake off a crippling illness and win silver in the team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.

The Wakefield star has spent most of the week preparing for the home Games to vomit, which means missed training sessions and sleepless nights.

It seemed to reduce the chances of Charlie Tanfield of Great Ayton, Ethan Vernon and Dan Bigham winning a major medal in front of a waiting home crowd.

But Wood and company raised their game when it mattered, starting with a 3:50.796 qualifying effort that put England second, one second behind New Zealand.

They were behind the eight-ball throughout the gold medal final as the Kiwis, fielding the same lineup as the Tokyo Olympics, took the win by nearly two seconds.

Under the circumstances, silver was a prized medal that Wood won through thick and thin.

Wood said: “I caught a stomach bug at the start of the week which wiped me out for a good 48 hours.

“I was in my bed curled up in a ball, not feeling well, so we missed a couple of practices. Sometimes the sport throws those curve balls at you.

“It was about how we as a team overcame that and had a decent race that day. If someone had told me I could have done it on Tuesday, I would have. taken.

“We had shortcomings in some areas but with what we had to manage we are satisfied.”

For Tanfield, the bronze was worth its weight in gold as he begins to fire up the boil of a nightmarish Olympic debut in Tokyo.

The 25-year-old was called up as a late replacement for veteran Ed Clancy then caught up in controversy when he collided with a Danish runner, one of the favorites for Olympic gold.

“I had a really tough time in Tokyo, it was horrible for me,” he said.

“I feel like it will make me strong in the long run because it really put things into perspective and really scared me, I don’t want that to happen again.

“I feel like I’ve come a long way as an athlete over the past year. Coming out of it as one of the contributing guys and not the weak link was really good.

There was also bronze for Maddie Leech of Huddersfield in the women’s team pursuit.

The 19-year-old, who was inspired watching Laura Kenny do her thing at Rio 2016, stepped on the podium with the five-time Olympic champion at the home Games.

Leech, Kenny, Sophie Lewis and Josie Knight were more than five seconds slower than Australia in qualifying which broke the Games record and three slower than New Zealand.

They did enough to secure a battle for bronze and beat familiar foes in Wales when it came to it, claiming victory in 4:17.096 and by a margin of 1.796 seconds.

Leech crashed out at the Nations Cup in Glasgow, suffered a concussion and did not race for six weeks before contracting Covid on her return.

She said: “I am happy to put all of this behind me. I had a tough few months trying to come back so I didn’t know how I was going to race this year.

“Laura and Josie have so much depth and knowledge and they helped us use that to have a good race.

“It’s amazing, we knew it would be tight with the Welsh guys but it was great to get him out of the bag in the final.”

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