Australia’s 21-rider contingent departed home shores this morning for the 2017 UCI Track World Championships that begin in Hong Kong on Wednesday 12 April.
In many instances the Championships signify a range of new beginnings, most notably the start of a new Olympic cycle that will take place on the new Hong Kong Velodrome.
At the Australian level, newly appointed High Performance Director Simon Jones will be at the helm of a new-look Team Australia for the first time at a World Championships.
Appointed in February, Jones brings more than two decades of elite-level international coaching and management, notably playing an integral role in driving British Cycling success during both the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games, and a number of Commonwealth Games and World Championships campaigns.
“Australian cycling is a different culture so I am going into these championships with my eyes wide open, I am eager to take it all in,” said Jones, who was on site during March’s Track Nationals in Brisbane but officially commenced with Cycling Australia on April 3. “I will be calibrating myself officially into the role by observing, getting to know the athletes and the coaches.
“Any world championships is important, there are not many world championships between now and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“They are a great opportunity for everyone to learn all around, to network, and understand about what the landscape is moving forward.”
Eight months on from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where Australia claimed two medals on the track, the 2017 edition of Team Australia boasts experience through reigning world champions in Rebecca Wiasak (ACT), Alex Porter, 20, (SA), Callum Scotson, 20, (SA) and Sam Welsford, 21, (WA).
The team is further bolstered by Matthew Glaetzer, 24, (SA), Cameron Meyer, 29, (WA), Kaarle McCulloch, 29, (NSW), Amy Cure, 24, (TAS) and Ashlee Ankudinoff, 26, (NSW) who share 14 rainbow jerseys.
In great signs for the future of Australian track cycling, teenagers Courtney Field, 19, (VIC), Kelland O’Brien, 18, (VIC) and Kristina Clonan, 18, (QLD) feature in a line up featuring eight debutants who will get their first taste of an elite world championships.
“I think the team possesses a great mix of experience and new riders, and that split is really important,” Jones explained. “Particularly in the year after an Olympic Games, it is really important to bring talent through, and to give them opportunity so they can see a pathway.”
As the sporting world enters another Olympic cycle, Jones has made it clear that while the team will still seek quality results in Hong Kong, a strong emphasis on the overall athlete performance will provide the underlying theme for the week.
“In particular, I will be focusing on the processes that underpin the athletic performances on the track,” revealed Jones. “How the staff work in their specific roles, how they work together, they plan, they debrief, and how they communicate.”
“Overall, it is about the processes, about how they deal with the pressure, how they deal with the expectation of themselves, and with the racing.
“I want to see how they go about preparing for this competition, how they can maximise the learning opportunity a World Championship creates and provides.
“The times necessarily and the wins are quite irrelevant to me to a large degree, it is not necessarily always about the outcome.
“I am looking for them to focus on what they can control and the heart of that is the percentage of effort. (What I am looking for is) that they give their best performance at 100% effort.”
The immense learning opportunity is not lost on the debutants with the team’s youngest female selected in Kristina Clonan (QLD) – who will turn 19 on day two of the World Championships – excited of the opportunity ahead.
“I’m stoked to be able to race at my first World Championships and I will be like a sponge just trying to soak up all their information,” said Clonan, who earned three under 19 National and two World Championships medals in 2016.
“My goal for Hong Kong is to experience everything and anything I possibly can, get a feel of the racing and learn how they organise and prepare themselves for D-Day.”
On the other end of the scale, six-time world champion Cameron Meyer (WA) is primed ahead of his seventh campaign, with Australia’s most decorated male track cyclist poised to add to his rainbow jersey collection.
“The rainbow jersey is very special to me, my first big track success was winning a World Championship back in 2009, and to wear the rainbow colours for an entire year it does not get much better,” said Meyer, who will line up in the Madison, points race and potentially the team pursuit. “I know the Olympic and Commonwealth Games are seen as the pinnacle, but to be the best in the world and wear the colours of a world champion to me means just as much.”
Patrick Constable, 21, (SA)
Matthew Glaetzer, 24, (SA) 2012 team sprint world champion
Nathan Hart, 24, (ACT)
Jacob Schmid, 23, (VIC)
Courtney Field, 19, (VIC)
Kaarle McCulloch, 29, (NSW) 3x team sprint world champion
Stephanie Morton, 26, (SA)
Holly Takos, 21, (SA)
Women’s Track Endurance
Ashlee Ankudinoff, 26, (NSW) 2010 & 2015 team pursuit world champion
Kristina Clonan, 18, (QLD)
Amy Cure, 24, (TAS) 2014 (points) & 2015 (team pursuit) world champion
Alexandra Manly, 21 (SA)
Rebecca Wiasak, 32, (ACT) 2015 & 2016 individual pursuit world champion
Men’s Track Endurance
Jordan Kerby, 24, (QLD)
Cameron Meyer, 29, (WA) 3x Points, 2x Madison, 2010 Team Pursuit world champion
Kelland O’Brien, 18, (VIC)
Alex Porter, 20, (SA) 2016 world champion (team pursuit)
Callum Scotson, 20, (SA) 2016 world champion (team pursuit)
Sam Welsford, 21, (WA) 2016 world champion (team pursuit)
Rohan Wight, 20, (SA)
Nick Yallouris, 23, (NSW)