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.
The Tokyo 2020 games are now under 800 days away.
Cycling Australia’s (CA) commitment to Olympic and Paralympic Gold medal performances and Athlete Wellbeing continues.
In line with the Cycling Australia High Performance Strategy announced in October 2017, additional athletes will join the Australian Cycling Team in October 2018, as part of the new Podium Potential Track Academy. The Track Academy is a vital part of the elite athlete pathway and one of the cornerstones of the Australian Cycling Team’s long-term strategic plan.
These talented young athletes will train alongside the Podium Athletes, be based in Adelaide, and be provided with resources and support to develop them towards 2024. As well as these longer-term prospects, it is possible that a small number of these athletes will bridge the gap to the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Simon Jones, Cycling Australia’s Performance Director: “Our goal is as clear now as it was when I started. Success at the Olympics in 2020 and 2024 is our goal, and we define ‘success’ as Olympic Gold. Our plan is all about continuing our focussed trajectory to Tokyo and beyond.
“An important element of the team’s balance and make up is to ensure a consistent flow of talent enters into the performance program, and we look forward to welcoming new riders into the Australian Cycling Team later in the year.”
As well as the new athletes set to join the Podium Potential Track Academy later this year, the Australian Cycling Team is also set to welcome three new elite riders:
While the Australian Cycling Team is set to welcome many new riders, with a limited number of Team places available, four athletes will be transitioned out of the Australian Cycling Team system. Those athletes are:
Simon Jones: “It is always difficult to make these tough decisions and it is stressful for all parties in these circumstances. Of course, we recognise and understand it is especially tough for the athlete.
“I want to take this opportunity to recognise the contribution these four athletes have made to the Team and wish them all the best going forward. We will ensure in the short term that they have a support network around them and readily accessible support via our Senior Personal Excellence Advisor Mark Gregory, who is there to guide elite athletes through these complex transitions.
The Australian Cycling Team’s commitment to improving athlete wellbeing is further reflected via a new AIS directorship centred around Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement. CA will seek to engage the new director Matti Clements to develop an even deeper understanding of this critically important piece of the elite athlete success puzzle.
Further, the Australian Cycling Team has appointed Dr Ruth Anderson to the newly created role of Performance Psychologist and Behaviours. Dr Anderson is set to join CA in July. While this role will focus primarily on performance optimisation, Dr Anderson will also be an integral part of the support team that will oversee the implementation of additional athlete wellbeing and engagement tactics.
Finally, Cycling Australia have recruited Dr Paolo Menaspa as Head of Performance Solutions. Dr Menaspa will play a key role in supporting the coaching and performance support team to identify and deliver performance enhancing solutions.
Further depth will be added to the team shortly, with recruitment currently underway for a new Strength and Conditioning Coach and a new Para-cycling Technical Director; a replacement for Peter Day who will be retiring in September after decades of service to Cycling Australia.
Simon Jones: “Ultimately, we believe that our Performance Strategy will continue to deliver an optimum overall makeup of the Team as we strive for excellence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic, for 2024 and beyond”.
Cycling Australia will shortly publish a full list of Australian Cycling Team Track and Para-cycling Athlete Members.