• Rebecca Wiasak on her way to winning the women's Undividual Pursuit at the UCI Track World Championships (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Australia's Rebecca Wiasak has won the women's individual pursuit at the UCI Track World Championships, defending the title she won last year in Paris.
Cycling Central

3 Mar 2016 - 8:26 AM  UPDATED 3 Mar 2016 - 2:37 PM

Rebecca Wiasak has defended her individual pursuit title at the track cycling world championships in London to give Australia a gold-medal start on the opening night of competition.

Wiasak's stirring victory in the 3000m race was Australia's only success on Wednesday (Thursday morning AEDT), with strong medal hopefuls Anna Meares and Steph Morton falling short in the bronze medal race for the women's team sprint.

It was a different story for Wiasak, who led from start to finish in a supreme display to post a time of 3 minutes 34.099 seconds - nearly eight seconds better than Poland's Malgorzata Wojtyra - to claim gold.

The 31-year-old, who topped Wojtyra by nearly three seconds in qualifying, was defending the title she won in Paris 12 months ago.

Meares and Morton were among the gold medal favourites, but were narrowly beaten by Germany in the qualifying earlier in the day before suffering the same fate in the evening session - with Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel again toppling the Aussie duo, this time by 0.131 seconds.

Meanwhile, teammate Glenn O'Shea finished 15th in the men's 15km scratch race and more than a lap behind Spanish winner Sebastian Mora Vedri.

O'Shea will now turn his focus to the Omnium starting on Friday (Saturday AEDT).

New Zealand beat the Netherlands in a closely-fought men's team sprint final while Spain's Mora Vedri powered away from the leading bunch late in the 15km scratch race, 60 laps of the track, to take the gold medal ahead Ignacio Prado of Mexico and Switzerland's Claudio Imhof.