Catherine Cheatley says she leaves the Olympics with no regrets despite failing to make her mark on her specialist points race on the fourth night of track cycling at the Laoshan Velodrome.
Wanganui's Cheatley finished well down the field in the exciting points contest won conclusively by pre-race favourite Holland's Marianne Vos.
The New Zealander finished up 17th after failing to gain a point from the 10 scoring laps in the 100-lap, 25km race which is a mix of tactics, bravery and flat out sprinting speed.
But the 25-year-old New Zealander said after being off the bike for so long earlier this year while she recovered from surgery for circulation problems in her leg she had made a vow to herself that she felt she upheld here in Beijing.
"I just made a pact to myself I'd give everything 100 percent so when I came here I'd have no regrets.
And I don't have any," she said. "I went out and raced the best that I could and the result doesn't really reflect the race that I rode. That's the way points races work though."
Competing at her first Olympic Games, Cheatley just wasn't able to work her way into the reckoning on the scoring laps (riders compete for points every 10 circuits) and was never a contender in a race dominated by the Dutchwoman.
Vos added the Olympic gold to the world championship title she won in the points race earlier this year.
The key juncture came just prior to the seventh scoring lap when Vos managed to take a lap on the field and secured the bonus 20 points. From there she had the race in the bag providing no other rider could establish a clear breakaway. Vos was too slick to allow that to happen.
Cuba's Yoanka Gonzalez picked up the silver medal with 18 points while Spain's Leire Olaberria grabbed bronze on 13, shading another Cuban Maria Luisa Calle who finished on the same total.
Cheatley said her main tactic had been to "try to get in the right moves" but the race never unfolded her way.
"It didn't quite work but I went out there and gave it heaps," she said. She also had nothing but praise for the impressive Dutch rider who rode the perfect points race.
"She's just unbeliavable. When she wants to go she can just go. I didn't see her hardly at all the whole race ... then she just picks the time. I saw her go, and wanted to go, but I'd just been. I was biting my handlebars, but she's world class."
Cheatley will now take a well-earned break ("I haven't seen my husband since March") before resuming racing with World Cup events at the end of the year.
And now? Cheering some fellow Kiwis in other sports and spending a lot less time in her room at the village were high on the agenda.
- © Fairfax NZ News