COLNE’S Steven Burke admitted he felt in better shape than he had done for a long time after helping Great Britain to a gold medal and a world record at the Track Cycling World Champion-ships yesterday.
Burke will bid to secure further honours this morning, with the 24-year-old currently scheduled to make a rare appearance in the kilometre time trial event in Melbourne.
And he will be boosted by an achievement only rivalled by his bronze medal in the individual pursuit at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, after originally being left out of yesterday’s team pursuit quartet.
Burke has been a mainstay of the Great Britain team in recent times but Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy, Pete Kennaugh and Andy Tennant took to the track for morning qualifying, when they posted the third fastest time in history.
It was perhaps a measure of the faith in Burke’s ability then that, despite that impressive time, the Colne rider was still restored to the line-up for the final against Australia.
The hosts had been regarded as the form team in the world during the early stages of 2012, and the possible favourites for gold at the Olympics in London.
But Burke came back into the British team for Andy Tennant, despite the Midlander’s strong performance in qualifying, and helped his country to a stunning world record.
Their time of three minutes 53.295 seconds surpassed the previous record of three minutes 53.313 seconds set by the British quartet of Clancy, Thomas, Paul Manning and Bradley Wiggins at the 2008 Olympics.
Burke had been optimistic of breaking the world record at the London Olympics but Great Britain needed to be on top form to even secure gold at the World Championships, with Australia completing the 4km distance in three minutes 53.401 seconds themselves.
“I’m just glad they believed in me,” Burke said of his recall to the team for the final.
“It was good. I was confident I could do the business in the final and I felt really good, the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
The gold medal and world record ended years of frustration for Burke at World Championships.
Australia had taken victory in the previous two years, with Great Britain pipped for gold in 2010 and only third last year.
Burke had also been struck down by illness as the British quartet surprisingly finished fourth in 2009, a year after they had dominated at the Olympics.