Australian track cyclist Matthew Glaetzer has shown incredible resilience this week at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
His Commonwealth Games campaign began with gold in the men’s team sprint. He brought home the men’s team sprint title after combining with Leigh Hoffman and Matthew Richardson to beat England.
However his joy would soon turn into heartbreak.
Australia’s top track cyclist was chasing another gold medal at the Lee Valley velodrome when he suffered a tragic terrible crash in the kierin which threatened to end his campaign. The accident left him needing his elbow cut open to remove splinters. Glaetzer also bore wounds on several parts of his body.
So not only did he miss out on a medal in that event, Glaetzer had to endure the physical pain from his injuries as well as the emotional and psychological disappointment of missing out on something he had trained so hard for.
But he soldiered on.
Just 24 hours after that terrible crash that left him battered and bruised, the injured Aussie bounced back to win a bronze medal in the sprints. Or so he thought.
Unfortunately, he suffered a disappointingly heart-breaking relegation when the officials announced they were relegating him on review. They said he had challenged Scotland’s Jack Carlin unfairly in their side-by-side duel.
Given the injuries and fatigue he’d endured, he was overjoyed when he thought he had won bronze.
“You never can perform the same after a crash as bad as that. I had to dig so deep today and I just gave it everything to try to get a result – and that’s why this bronze feels so big for me,” the elated 29-year-old had said earlier, when still thinking he’d won the bronze medal.
But unfortunately the harsh reality soon sunk in.
And despite the appeals by the Australian officials, it was to no avail. The decision would stand.
He was left absolutely devastated.
Aussie cycling great Katey Bates described the decision as a ‘robbery’ in her commentary for Channel 7.
At that point, if he had wanted to just go home, it would have been understandable. But the resilient cyclist rode his bike again. This time to compete in the 1000m sprint.
But to add another complexity to his rollercoaster Commonwealth Games, just hours before the men’s 1000m time trial, AusCycling released a statement saying the Australians would have to use different handlebars, as a safety precaution. This unfortunately would result in slightly slower times.
And while AusCycling performance boss Jesse Korf acknowledged that decision created a degree of disappointment, he said safety comes first.
And once again the three-time Olympic champion took this challenge in his stride, determined not to give up.
With all the strength he could muster, Glaetzer rode as fast as he could and broke the one minute barrier to win gold in the 1000m time trial, with a time of 59.505 seconds.
His feat equals Anna Meares’ track cycling record of five Commonwealth Games golds.
Fellow Australian Thomas Cornish finished a close second with a stunning ride of 1:00.036, just half a second behind the gold medalist.