Abi Smith overcame course difficulties to make her Commonwealth debut

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England's Abi Smith during the Women's Individual Time Trial Final at West Park in Wolverhampton on day seven of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Picture date: Thursday August 4, 2022. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images) (David Davies - PA Images via Getty Images)
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A Commonwealth Games debut was everything Abi Smith imagined albeit rather harder than she would have liked.

The 20-year-old from Harrogate notched the 18th best time in the Women’s time trial at West Park in Wolverhampton in a race won by Australia’s Grace Brown with England’s Anna Henderson taking silver and New Zealand’s Georgia Williams was third.

For Smith, who came through Clifton Cycling Club, the hilly nature of the 28.8km course meant the legs were burning but she did not lack for support along the way.

“It was really hard,” said Smith, who finished 3:58.03 behind the eventual winner.

“It was probably not my best ride, but I tried as hard as I could, and I’m satisfied with the effort I put in. The crowds are incredible, everywhere I went there were people screaming. I’ve not really had many races where there have been such huge crowds, so it was special.

“It was up and down the whole time and a little bit of wind as well in places, so it was really, tough. It’s so gritty and long.”

Smith’s Commonwealth Games are not done yet, she will be part of the England team in the road race.

And while the Australians will be favourites to take the gold, as they did in the time trial, Smith believes that England will be able to challenge.

She added: “I’m really excited for the road race; we’ve got a strong team. We’ll be looking for opportunities to get the win.

“If it’s a sprint finish, there are some very strong sprinters from other teams, as well as our own. So, we’ve got a good chance. We’ll have to be covering moves, make sure nothing goes up the road without us in.”

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