Track cyclists on target for Tokyo
Fifteen track cyclists have been announced on the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020 today, featuring six Olympic debuts, seven athletes making their second Olympic Team and Annette Edmondson and Matthew Glaetzer returning for their third Games.
Matthew Glaetzer, Nathan Hart, Matthew Richardson, Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton will compete in the sprint events, with Ashlee Ankudinoff, Georgia Baker, Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson, Maeve Plouffe, Leigh Howard, Kelland O’Brien, Lucas Plapp, Alex Porter and Sam Welsford selected for the endurance events.
With athletes who have medalled at the Olympics and claimed World Championship titles in their career, the 15-strong squad will compete from 3-9 August in Tokyo’s Izu velodrome over 12 events, including the Olympic return of the two-rider Madison event for the first time since Beijing 2008.
Australian Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 Ian Chesterman welcomed the cyclists to the Australian Olympic Team, acknowledging the current unprecedented uncertainty around international sport.
“Athletes have waited four years, and in some cases longer, for this opportunity,” Mr Chesterman said. “We are in unchartered waters, but we want to set a course to ensure they can prepare for the Games in the best possible environment and they can get to the Games safely. Part of that process is to announce athletes as they are nominated and selected to the Australian Olympic Team.
“Australian track cyclists have a phenomenal Olympic legacy and I want to congratulate the fifteen athletes selected today to continue that tradition.
“This is the result of more than a decade of unrelenting hard work by our athletes and it is worth celebrating. This is an achievement for the athletes, the whole Cycling Australia team, coaches, family, friends and supporters.
“The resilience these athletes have already shown is inspiring – Matt Glaetzer’s named to his second Games despite the challenge of thyroid cancer; Kaarle McCulloch overcoming the disappointment of missing Rio 2016 to become World Champion in 2019 and make her Olympic return; each athlete selected today has a story of perseverance and we’re proud to select them to the Australian Olympic Team today.
“There’s certainly disruption in preparing for the Games for many sports, but I encourage the fifteen cyclists announced today and all athletes pursuing their dream of competing at Tokyo 2020 to continue taking care of what they can control – training and preparing as best as possible to be ready for Tokyo.”
2019 World Champion and London 2012 bronze medallist Kaarle McCulloch was proud to be selected for her second Games, just weeks after she secured a 2020 World Championships Team Sprint silver with Steph Morton off limited preparation.
“The dream I had when I was 12 watching the Sydney Olympics with my dad feels as real as yesterday,” McCulloch said. “I’ve always had the Olympic spirit within me and I’m ecstatic to be able to be back competing.
“My motto into the world championships was “perfect preparation doesn’t predict”. This is the same kind of attitude I’ll be taking with me into Tokyo amidst all the uncertainty and nervousness in the world right now.
“Nothing changes for me in terms of my application to my training but a lot is changing in the way we train. As athletes, we are role models for everyone for health. We are taking quite serious steps in our training to ensure we are being responsible athletes but also people. We are following all the guidelines as set out by our medical professionals and we are prepared to face this challenge.
“We as humans are facing a challenge but we have also shown we are able to overcome. The world will recover from this and I believe everyone has within them part of the Olympic spirit, this is why the Olympics are so special - it brings the world together when we need it the most.
At just 19, Lucas Plapp will make his Olympic debut as the youngest member on the 2020 Track Team after a monumental rise in the past 12 months.
“I had a little tear in my eye when I found out I made the Tokyo Team, it was a pretty special moment and I was just speechless,” Plapp said.
“After the Brisbane World Cup [December 2019] I really started to believe I could make this Team.
“I’ve learned so much from [teammate] Sam Welsford from his experiences four years ago and the rest of the team create such a good environment to learn and train in – it helped me realise it’s where I want to be and helped me take my own performance to a new level.
After the Danish team broke the World Record held by Australia at the World Championships in February 2019, Plapp is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a new scenario now to be the hunter and not the hunted, we’ll be using that to our advantage to try to come out and show the world what we’re capable of.”
Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Cycling Australia Steve Drake congratulated the athletes on their selection to Tokyo 2020.
“It is exciting to see a team with a rich blend of experienced Olympians and a number of rising stars set to make their debut, with all selections a testament to the hard work and performances of our athletes and to the commitment and dedication of our coaches, and performance support staff,” Mr Drake said.
“These are unprecedented times, with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting communities across the world. The impacts to sports including cycling are widespread, but we will continue to work through these challenging times to ensure our athletes and staff remain healthy and prepared for the Games.”
With individual event determinations expected closer to the Games, the endurance athletes will compete across the Team Pursuit, Omnium and Madison events with sprinters taking on the Individual Sprint, Team Sprint and Keirin events.
Today’s selection takes the selected Team size for Tokyo 2020 to 43 athletes. Cyclists in the road, BMX, BMX Freestyle and Mountain Bike disciplines are expected to be nominated and selected in the coming months.