Fri, September 20, 2013

Versatile Tara Whitten sits fourth in omnium

By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency


Canada's Tara Whitten competes during the London 2012 Olympic Games women's omnium flying lap 250m time trial cycling event at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park in East London on August 6, 2012. AFP PHOTO /ODD ANDERSEN

LONDON - It has become a one day challenge for Tara Whitten to become the most decorated Canadian Olympian at these Summer Games.

But she has to be better than she was Monday — maybe a lot better — to get there.

“I have to refocus for (Tuesday) but I have time to recover.”

Whitten can become the first Canadian to win two medals in London should she move up just one place in the women’s cycling omnium event that is supposed to favour her versatility in the sport. She was previously part of Canada’s cycling team pursuit medal but now she’s on her own without team support.

The 32-year-old from Edmonton isn’t at all pleased with herself to be sitting in fourth place halfway through the competition, she expected better in the cycling equivalent of a heptathlon — best all-around cyclist, only with six events rather than seven.

“I think I can recover,” said Whitten, sitting in fourth place, one point out of third in the complicated scoring sport that awards the lowest marks with victory. “I would prefer to be a little bit higher (in the standings) but I can live with fourth for now.

“I have a real good pursuit event so I think I can recover.”

Whitten got in trouble in the elimination race of the event which is usually one of her strengths. And it was clear that surprising performance for her angered her at day’s end. Whether that means she’s angry enough to use that energy on her behalf will be determined in competition on Tuesday.

“I prefer the pursuit and am looking forward to that,” she said.

Whitten sits at 18 points, behind leaders Laura Trott of Team GB and American Sarah Hammer. They have 12 while Australia’s Annette Edmondson sits third, one point ahead of Whitten.

The event could well come down to the sixth and final event, the flying lap time trial, with the fastest time winning.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @simmonssteve