The country’s best and brightest gathered at the Australian Cycling Team 'Women in Performance Track Cycling' Breakfast to discuss the challenges and opportunities within one of the most competitive sports in the country.
Held in conjunction with the recent Track National Championships in Brisbane, the breakfast was organised by Podium Potential Academy Sprint Coach Lynne Munro and hosted by National Manager of Communications Amy McCann.
The panel featured three generations of track cycling royalty including dual Olympic champion Anna Meares, four-time world champion Kaarle McCulloch and Australia’s first female Olympic sprint medallist Michelle Ferris.
Also attending the breakfast was a number of Australia's reigning world champion athletes in Amy Cure, Ashlee Ankudinoff, Alex Manly and Georgia Baker, Para-cycling Pilot Madison Janssen, UCI Commissaire Karen O’Callaghan, Cycling Australia director Linda Evans, plus a host of staff, sports scientists, state and institute coaches.
“A year and a half ago when I first came into the Australian cycling team, especially taking up a coaching position, I looked around and didn't see very many other women around,” explained Munro. “And because I knew the story that had gotten me there had its challenges, I wanted to make use of my position to leverage some change and accelerate the process.
“It is very easy for us now to think we are doing pretty good without actually reflecting on how we got there. We need to allow that knowledge and legacy of those that came before us to influence how we can shape the future.”
After spending time away from the sport following her retirements in the early 2000s, Australia’s first female Olympic medallist in track sprinting Michelle Ferris is excited to be back and a part of the discussions.
“I think it is time we get together as a group of female athletes and help support each other, I am not sure what the next step is but that is the challenge to all of us, past and present riders to keep momentum in cycling,” said Ferris, a dual Olympic medallist (1996/2000) and seven-time World Championship medalist.
“Getting more people involved at a support crew level, staff, commissaries, coaches, everything and if we work together, we have more chance of making a difference for women in sport.”
Four-time world champion and 2012 Olympic medallist Kaarle McCulloch took time out of her Nationals campaign to present a number of concepts and ideas to the attendees.
“Two of the key things I wanted to get across was the importance of environment, and how to cultivate a positive environment,” said McCulloch. “But also how do we keep girls in the sport.
“I have realised there is a whole multitude of things that we can do to get girls involved in the sport and more people in the cycling fraternity. And that comes down to creating better support systems for coaches and for when we find talent, where do they go and how can they thrive.”
For more information about how to get involved in cycling, please contact Cycling Australia.