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By Tom Harle
Charlie Tanfield got a first hit of velodrome redemption with team pursuit silver at the Commonwealth Games.
The Great Ayton star played his part alongside Ethan Vernon, Ollie Wood and Dan Bigham as Team England delighted a home crowd with four medals on opening night.
They were hard pressed to catch a New Zealand team that went 3:49.821 in qualifying and backed up with 3:47.575 in the final to take gold by more than two seconds.
But for Tanfield bronze was worth its weight in gold as he begins to lance the boil of a nightmarish Olympic debut in Tokyo.
The 25-year-old was called in as a late replacement for veteran Ed Clancy and then caught in controversy as he collided with a Danish rider, one of the favourites for Olympic gold.
“I had a really tough time in Tokyo, it was horrible for me,’ said Tanfield, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
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“I feel as though that will make me strong in the long run, because it really put things into perspective and scared the life out of me really, I don’t want that to happen again.
“I feel as though I've come a long way as an athlete in the last year. To come out of this as one of the guys contributing and not being the weak link was really good.”
Tanfield excelled with time trial expert Bigham coming to the fore in a qualifying effort of 3:50.796 that placed England second, nearly a second behind the Kiwis.
He said: “We could be disappointed with our time but did a PB performance outside of the Games, so we can’t be.
“You want to win I feel as though it was great to share the podium with the group of mates.
“We're looking forward to the World Championships at the end of the year, to take some time off here and there. I reckon we could be in the mix there.”
New Zealand’s Olympic line-up was unchanged and they will be one of the teams setting the pace in the 4000m event between now and the next Games in Paris.
The Tokyo cycle saw rapid improvement in team pursuing with Denmark and Italy combining to slice eight seconds off the world record that stood in Rio.
“To see that jump was insane, something crazy,” he said. “The previous Games was a second every four years.
“We’re still improving. Italy made a huge leap and we only made a big leap. I feel as though we’ve got a good team behind us. It feels like a different environment now, it’s a lot more positive.”
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