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Commonwealth Games: Sheffield-based Annie Last claims mountain biking gold

All smiles for Sheffield-based Annie Last as she receives her gold medal at the Commonwealth Games
All smiles for Sheffield-based Annie Last as she receives her gold medal at the Commonwealth Games
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Sheffield-based mountain biker Annie Last claimed gold with a dominant performance in the cross country race at the Commonwealth Games.

Last won by 48 seconds from England team mate Evie Richards in Nerang, with the pair pulling clear after the first six laps.

For Last - from Nottingham but trained in Sheffield - this is a first major international title after years of hard work.

The 27-year-old deferred her medical studies to pursue her cycling career and showed promise with eighth place at the London Olympics before suffering injury disruptions and failing to qualify for Rio four years later.

After a second place in the world championships last September - not too far from here in Cairns - she is now on the top step of the podium.

"It was absolutely amazing," she said. "I'm still waiting for it to sink in. The race went really smoothly. My legs were good and it all just came together."

Last and Richards made their intentions clear from the start, pulling out a small gap at the top of the first climb.

"There's quite a lot of single track on this course so I wanted to be in a position where I was near the front at least," Last said.

"There's the potential if you're too far back that someone in front messes up and you could lose contention. I wanted to make sure I was near the front. You can ride your own race."

Richards' result was every bit as impressive as Last's, as the 21-year-old still rides in the under-23 category in the World Cup series.

"I knew I needed to get in the front to start with and then hang in there as long as I could," she said. "It played out well, and I'm so pleased I hung on to the end.

"I've always dreamed of getting a medal in the Commonwealth Games, since I was a child. I really wanted a medal so bad but I didn't actually think it was realistic.

"I was really worried I wouldn't even come away with a top 10 it was such a good field. To get a medal I'm so happy, so chuffed."