By Yuri Karpenko
In Dutch Apeldoorn, Olga Panarina took gold for the first time in her career, in the 500m time-trial. The competition included a number of top cyclists, but lacked the gold and silver medallists from last year’s event: Australian Anna Meares and Lithuanian Simona Krupeckaite. In addition, several other strong sportswomen were absent. The event was a fully-fledged ‘rehearsal’ for the London Olympics (rather than the 2012 Championship). Next season will see the cyclists training to achieve perfect form for the Olympics. Meanwhile, in Apeldoorn, the athletes had their last chance to compare their own performance with that of their strongest rivals. Sadly, the time-trial lost its Olympic status after the Beijing Games, leading to many leading racers sacrificing it to save their energy for the sprint and keirin events. In turn, Panarina decided to take part and enjoyed success. The chance of becoming world champion seemed more important than saving energy. She raced confidently, showing the best time, ahead of French Sandy Clair and German Miriam Welte.
The second Belarusian gold went to Tatiana Sharakova. In the 25km points race (100 legs with ten intermediary finishes), she claimed 30 points: 20 for breaking away from her rivals by a leg and ten for two victories during intermediary finishes (five for each). Silver went to Czech Jarmila Machacova and bronze was captured by Italian Giorgia Bronzini. For Tatiana, the championship gold was the first of her career. In distinction from the time-trial (where speed over two legs counts), the points race is ‘track chess’. In the 100 leg marathon, which is divided into ten segments, strategic thinking is required alongside physical prowess. The Belarusian outstripped her rivals by a leg, putting herself well ahead; over just five legs, she had created a half track lead. As a result, Sharakova won the World Championship title and is on the way to showing herself a favourite for the Olympic omnium and team pursuit races.
On the final day of the competition, Olga Panarina took silver in the keirin (8 legs of 250m each). At the finish, she was behind the winner by half a wheel; Anna Meares took gold — her third gold medal of the present championship. Bronze went to Clara Sanchez of France. The omnium (six disciplines) saw Tatiana Sharakova taking fifth position.
In all, 18 sets of medals were awarded at the championship, with Australia leading the medal ranking, followed by France and Belarus. Sportsmen from 16 countries claimed medals, with 41 states sending their athletes overall.