RIO DE JANEIRO — Canada defeated New Zealand on Saturday to win a bronze medal in the women’s track cycling team pursuit event at the Rio Olympics.
Montreal’s Kirsti Lay, Calgary’s Allison Beveridge, Georgia Simmerling of West Vancouver, B.C., and Jasmin Glaesser of Vancouver finished in four minutes 14.627 seconds.
New Zealand settled for fourth place after finishing nearly four seconds behind in 4:18.459.
The Canadians led by over a half-second at the 1,000-metre mark of the 4K race at the Rio Olympic Velodrome. They really pulled away over the last few laps as the opposition faded.
“I’m so thankful to be here with these four amazing riders,” Simmerling said. “I’m just so speechless.”
Lay — who won silver at the worlds in March with Simmerling, Glaesser and Beveridge — was inserted back into the group in place of Vancouver’s Laura Brown, who had competed with the team earlier this week.
“We just stayed calm and it showed,” said head coach Craig Griffin. “We got rolling nicely. When you come to race day, you don’t change anything, you just do what you know.
“We’ve done it so many times, it was just like another training run.”
The Canadians came to Brazil with high hopes after winning bronze at the 2012 London Games and earning podium spots at the last four world championships.
But an impressive British team defeated Canada in world-record time (4:12.152) in the morning race to advance to the final against the United States.
The Brits were even faster in the final, taking gold in 4:10.236 as the Americans took silver in 4:12.454.
While athletes have been moved in and out of the Canadian lineup like chess pieces since London — Glaesser is the only remaining competitor from 2012 to suit up in Rio — the results have stayed fairly consistent.
Simmerling, meanwhile, is the first Canadian athlete to compete in three different sports at three separate Olympics. She raced for Canada in alpine skiing at the Vancouver Games six years ago before taking up ski cross ahead of Sochi in 2014.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
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