Stephanie Morton knows she will take career-best into this week’s World Championships. And so does the rest of the world.
The 28-year-old fired across the 2018/19 World Cup season netted her eight medals from four rounds including four gold. Morton topped the sprint qualification in every World Cup, taking sprint silver and bronze in the first two rounds before storming to her first individual World Cup gold medals in rounds three and four.
And as she strives to find the top step of the World Championship sprint podium after two straight silver medals, Morton is fully aware she will be a marked rider in Poland.
“I am certainly not the underdog anymore that’s for sure,” admitted Morton, who also clocked personal bests in the flying 200m including her first career sub-10.5 second ride in the flying 200m (10.484seconds) during the past World Cup season.
“But for me it’s just about focusing one race at a time. I think there’s the potential to start letting those thoughts creep in like ‘I’ve got to back up like last year’ or ‘I’ve got to do better than last year’ but you just can’t put that pressure on yourself. You’ve just got to go one race at a time and hopefully, if you do everything right, you’ll be at the final.
“But I’m not letting those thoughts creep in, I’m there to do a job, the end goal is Tokyo, so as much as it might be nice to take home the rainbow you have to think of the end goal which is Tokyo.
“So, wins this week might come from nailing a tactic or skill that I’ve never done before at a World Championship so I’m trying to be realistic and take that pressure off and hopefully just produce some good racing.”
Morton will partner with Kaarle McCulloch in the team sprint, with the pair finding success early in the season with gold in a new Australian record time in the second round of the World Cup. The pair begins their 2019 World Championship campaign on the opening day of competition.
“Kaarle has now moved down to Adelaide so we’ve been able to train together a lot more and just been able to gel and practice things in training that we usually wouldn’t get to,” Morton added. “We would often just rock up to the race and have to race together, so it’s been fantastic having her here and really bouncing things off each other and really pushing each other as well.
“I think it makes a huge difference having someone else there and both nipping at each other's heels and pushing each other to go faster and I think that’s why we saw some really good times at the World Cups and hopefully we can keep that momentum going into the World Champs.”
The Australian Team is settling into Pruszkow, Poland, ahead of the 2019 UCI Track World Championships which will be held from 27 February to 3 March.
Morton will be in action in the team sprint on day one (Wednesday) won team sprint gold with, the sprint begins on day two and three, before concluding her campaign with the keirin on Sunday.
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