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Aussie cyclists to re-write Olympic history

Author imageAOC25 May 2012
Aussie cyclists to re-write Olympic history

Olympic glory is on the horizon for the 14 athletes named in the Australian track cycling team for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Olympic glory is on the horizon for the 14 athletes named in the Australian track cycling team for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Charged with the fiery task of beating the Brits at home and the best from around the globe, the team is spearheaded by triple Olympic medallist Anna Meares, 28, and team pursuit leader Jack Bobridge, 22. Twelve athletes are on debut, with Meares and Bobridge the only cyclists remaining from the 2008 Beijing Games team.

"We've named a really exciting group who will be extremely competitive," said Cycling Australia National Performance Director Kevin Tabotta.

"They have done everything that was asked of them in the lead up to selection and, although relatively young, have demonstrated they have the talent and maturity to deal with the demands of major competition," said Tabotta.

The Australian team medalled in eight of the ten Olympic events at the 2012 World Championships, including gold medals to London-bound Matthew Glaetzer, 19, Shane Perkins, 25, and Scott Sunderland, 24, (Team Sprint), Glenn O'Shea, 23, (Omnium) and Meares (Keirin).

The London velodrome - dubbed the "Pringle" will showcase cycling with gender parity for the first time in Olympic history at five medals apiece. This signals the first time sprint queen Meares can compete in three events - the team sprint alongside triple World Champion partner Kaarle McCulloch, 24, and the sprint and keirin.

In 2004 Meares became the first Australian female to win Olympic gold on the track. With just one more medal in London the Queensland born champion will become the first female cyclist from any country to win four Olympic track medals and the first to medal at three Games.

"I seriously didn't know that," said Meares of her history making potential. "I am just really happy to have been selected.

"It's something that I've been working towards for four years and have been meeting all the goals set along the way to ensure selection. Our coach pulled the sprinters aside earlier this week to tell us we had been officially nominated and reminded us of what a privilege it is to represent Australia at this level.

"It was a very emotional moment, especially for my teammates who are heading to their first Olympic Games," said Meares who at 28 is the veteran of the track lineup.

"I don't think of that as a weight on my shoulders, I quite like holding that place in the team," she said. "My first time around I was the baby (Athens 2004). Eight years later I'm going to my third Games and now I'm at the other end so I can be the voice of experience as well.

"Sure there will be a little bit of pressure but I heard a great quote the other day that ‘pressure makes diamonds' so I'm hoping I can shine in London."

Ten years Meares' junior, team pursuit rider Alexander Edmondson is the youngest in the team. He makes his Olympic debut at 18, the same age five-time Olympian Stuart O'Grady was when he debuted at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The teenager was plucked from the Junior World Championship team in August last year and joins his sister Annette on the team with the 20-year-old selected for the women's team pursuit and omnium, a multi-discipline event which makes its first appearance on the Olympic program.

"It's unbelievable, I'm over the moon," said Alex Edmondson. "It's a dream come true but only half the job is done so now I have to go and do the other half over there."

The Edmondsons carve their way into history as the first brother-sister combination to represent Australia in cycling at the Olympic Games.

"Nettie and I have sort of been playing around with it because of the focus on us as brother and sister but now it's actually happening," he said. "I thought I would be able to describe it (the feeling) but I just can't, it's crazy.

"To make it by myself would be amazing but to do it with Nettie is a one of a kind experience and a great reward for our family, especially mum and dad who have always supported us and believed in us."

In the men's endurance squad Bobridge and Edmondson are joined by Rohan Dennis, 21, Michael Hepburn, 20, and O'Shea. The squad won team pursuit gold on the London track at the test event last February. The Brits then nabbed the world title in world record time in April this year. Returning to the London boards this August, the Aussies will be seeking redemption.

Annette Edmondson is joined by Amy Cure, 19, Melissa Hoskins, 21, and 2010 Team Pursuit World Champion Josie Tomic in the team pursuit squad. Led by Tomic, the veteran at 22, the squad is looking to build on their silver medal at this year's World Championships. They held the world record for ten minutes in Melbourne before it was reclaimed by Great Britain.

The Velodrome will be a colosseum for six days this August and our 14 Australian cyclists are ready for action with medal prospects in every event. Lookout London, the Aussies are coming.

Taya Conomos
Australian Olympic Committee

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