There were contrasting fortunes for two English cyclists in the women’s time trial at the Commonwealth Games – joy for bronze medalist Hayley Simmonds, but despair for Melissa Lowther.
Simmonds, who took up the sport to get in shape and shed nearly half her body weight, won time trial bronze on Tuesday.
A tearful Simmonds was overcome with emotion at the finish line and looked stunned when she placed third in the same event compatriot Lowther was due to race in – but an administrative error meant she could not be registered in time.
Simmonds’ triumph is the result of years of vigorous training which saw her drop 45 kilos (100 pounds).
“I showed Julian (Julian Winn, her coach) a picture of me from 2011 and he didn’t believe it was me, I lost like 45kg,” the 29-year-old said.
“As soon as I started doing time trials my competitive nature took over, it’s been hard.”
Simmonds, who now weighs 55kg, describes baking as one of her hobbies. “There have been times I’ve wanted to go and eat a big cake,” she said.
Simmonds, who did a PhD in chemistry at the University of Cambridge, will also go in the women’s road race on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Games.
Lowther, meanwhile, said she was “gutted” after her Commonwealth Games dreams were shattered because team officials failed to register her for the race.
Lowther was forced out of the individual time trial after an administrative blunder meant she was not formally entered into the event on Australia’s Gold Coast.
“I can’t put into words how disappointed I am to have been missed off the start list due to an admin error,” the 21-year-old wrote on Instagram.
“It was one of my targets this season to make selection for the time-trial event and I was so proud that my hard work in training had paid off.
“While Team England have apologised, I’m still gutted not to have the opportunity to represent my country after all the hard miles I’ve put in.”
Lowther will still compete in the women’s road race on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Games.
Team England chef de mission Sarah Winckless said a last-ditch appeal to include Lowther in Tuesday’s event had failed.
“I have spoken to Melissa to offer my sincere apologies to her, her coaches and to British Cycling,” Winckless said.
“Melissa has trained hard for and focused on this race and it should never be the case that an error on our part prevents an athlete from showing what she can do.
“We appealed to the Commonwealth Games Federation to allow Melissa into the race, but it was not possible at such short notice.
“Team England will be conducting a review to understand how the situation has arisen and how it can be prevented from happening again.”
Lowther is not the first participant at the Games to fall victim to a paperwork blunder.
India’s weightlifters are having to treat one another’s aches and pains because the required documents for their physio’s accreditation were not submitted in time.
Aakrant Saxena flew to the Gold Coast with the Indian team but was refused entry to the athletes’ village and training and competition venues.
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