Sarah Ulmer - what a machine!
This is great for New Zealand cycling! yeah!
ATHENS : New Zealand's Sarah Ulmer smashed her second world record in as many days on the way to claiming the 3000-metre individual pursuit cycling gold medal at the Athens Olympics.
Ulmer beat her own world best set just the previous day in qualifying with a new time of three minutes 24.537 seconds in decimating Australian Katie Mactier in the gold medal final.
In just three months the 28-year-old New Zealander has whittled six seconds! off the world record she set of 3:30.604 on the way to defeating Mactier in the pursuit final of the Melbourne world championships last May.
In a symbolic changing of the baton, Ulmer has been crowned the new queen of pursuiting while former Olympic champion and world record holder Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel bowed gracefully out of the Olympics with a bronze medal.
The 34-year-old Dutch great is a legend of cycling having claimed all three gold medals - in the road race, the individual time trial and the individual pursuit on the track at the 2000 Sydney Olympics - as well as winning the road time-trial in Athens last week, three days after a heavy fall in the road race.
It was the third time a world record was broken in the women's pursuit in Athens.
Mactier broke close friend Ulmer's three-month old world record on Saturday by 0.659 seconds with 3 minutes 29.945 seconds in the qualifying round to become the first woman to break the 3:30 barrier in the pursuit.
"I've had 3:27 written on my bedroom wall at home since last year's Stuttgart world championships and it just cracked me when Sarah did 3:26 yesterday, the silver medal is a bonus," Mactier said.
Ulmer struck back in the next heat retrieving her record when she clocked 3:26.400 and leaving Zijlaard-van Moorsel in her wake and then carved some more off it in Sunday's final.
"I was quite excited by the world record falling yesterday," Ulmer said. "It showed that the track was fast so I knew I was in the best form I've ever been in my life and it was just a matter of rising to the occasion.
"The competition between the top handful in the world is so close and Leontien has been the benchmark and has been helping people like Katie (Mactier) and myself to try and better her since the Sydney Games."
Mactier added: "For years and years it looked at who can go sub-3.30, but with this one (Ulmer) it's going to be who can go sub-3.20 come Beijing (Olympics), you know anything's possible."
It was a emotional denouement to winning the gold medal for Ulmer, who saluted a section of New Zealand fans performing the 'Haka' and then after the medal ceremony she ran across to the track and hugged her tearful mother, father and brother in the crowd.
Zijlaard-van Moorsel, who was at her peak at the Sydney Olympics, confirmed that this was her farewell Olympic race.
"Yes, this was my last race. I gave it all. This was it, it's over. I will rewind all my videotapes to look back at a beautiful career of which I am very proud," she said.
"I was in great form and improved by one and a half seconds on yesterday's race. I am very satisfied with my race today of which I am very proud."