Glasgow – South African Cyclist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio claimed bronze in a photo finish in the women’s road race at the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, on Sunday.
Moolman Pasio clinched the medal for South Africa in a tense sprint for the line to finish ahead of Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell.
The 28-year-old clocked a time of two hours 39 minutes and 54 seconds as South Africa ended the games with 40 medals.
England claimed a one-two as Lizzie Armitstead (2:38.43 sec) and Emma Pooley (2:39:08 sec) finished ahead of the South African.
“It was a tough race because England and Australia had strong teams with the Aussies the aggressors from the start,” said Moolman Pasio after the race.
“I didn’t want to waste too much energy covering other moves, but had to keep an eye on Lizzie because she was after the gold.
“Although she was a good wheel to watch, Emma Pooley is particularly strong so couldn’t be ignored either.”
The field was whittled down to five over the second half of the 98.14km course with Armitstead and Pooley, Cromwell, Linda Villumsen and Moolman Pasio all in the mix.
“I did my best to ride defensively as I was always going to be outnumbered,” said Moolman Pasio.
“But I paid the price with my legs starting to cramp at the end and Lizzie pulling away. I realised that it would come down to a race for bronze, so I initiated the sprint 200m from the line.”
Moolman Pasio initially thought she had lost the bronze to the Aussie.
“It was really, really close on the line. The way she crossed the line I thought she was third. I was really disappointed.
“So going from such huge disappointment to realising I was third was so wonderful.”
It was the first medal for the South African cycling team, and Moolman Pasio said she was pleased her team was able to compete with the top nations.
“We’ve had a really rough two-and-half over controversial Olympic selection. So I desperately wanted us to come together as a nation but even until right before the games I wasn’t sure that was possible.
“Although, it wasn’t a big field there are some really top quality riders, but this shows we can do it in the big competitions.”
Held in damp conditions, on a technical seven-lap course, it was Moolman Pasio’s international and European racing experience that made the difference according to her coach Dean Edwards.
“We had Ash who has been on European circuit, but the five supporting women are all on the local level. Its was always going to be difficult,” said Edwards.
“She was up against two Aussies and two Brits and she managed to contain them on her own.”
Edwards said it was a great team performance from the South Africans which gave Moolman Pasio the confidence to push for a podium placing.
In total, South Africa claimed 13 gold medals, 10 silver and 17 bronze in their 40-medal haul.
South Africa were seventh behind New Zealand on the medal table.
SAPA / Sport24