Matt Glaetzer has been left savouring a special cycling triumph after two years that might have broken a lesser man - and has hinted it might help prolong his glittering career.
The self-styled "old dog" of Australia's track team demonstrated once again his enduring excellence, capitalising on terrific work from young teammates Leigh Hoffman and Matt Richardson to deliver the team sprint gold on Friday.
A decade after he first competed at an Olympics as a wide-eyed teenager, Glaetzer could hardly believe he was back at the same velodrome in London, winning gold at a third straight Commonwealth Games.
"It's definitely special. It was only the team sprint I competed in back in 2012 and we missed out on bronze there - so to ride the same track with a completely new team and win gold is very satisfying," said Glaetzer.
The trio broke the Commonwealth Games record twice in a day and crushed a quality English trio in the final by over 1.3 seconds, leaving Glaetzer's teammates amazed at his resilience, longevity and spirit.
"He's a massive inspiration - he's achieved so much in his career," said Richardson.
"A few years ago, when we came into the program, the chance to train with a guy like that is a blessing. Now to be winning golds with him is awesome. We really fly from his experience."
Referring to Glaetzer's health battle - he had to overcome thyroid cancer and a torn calf muscle to compete at an ill-fated Tokyo Olympics last year - Richardson added: "To come back from something like that is absolutely phenomenal."
Glaetzer, too, was left inspired, reckoning the brilliance of his two young teammates might help him make his mind up about whether to soldier on to the Paris Olympics.
"What we do isn't easy and doesn't get any easier as I'm getting older, but it's definitely a little carrot to chase, knowing that we can have some real success in coming years together," said the 29-year-old.
"They're just developing, they're only going to get better and it's going to be phenomenal to see what we can do if we can stick together and stay healthy."
Before then, though, Glaetzer has his eyes on joining an elite club.
Along with Richardson, he will set out after gold in the keirin on Saturday, seeking to become only the fourth Australian cyclist after Gary Neiwand, Brad McGee and Anna Meares to win the same event at three Commonwealth Games.
Australian Associated Press
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