Lead­er­ship a new moun­tain to climb

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - SPORT -

RICKY Thack­ray has em­braced his role as a leader in the Aus­tralian squad ahead of the World Moun­tain Bike Orienteering Cham­pi­onships.

The Hunt­ing­dale res­i­dent was se­lected to rep­re­sent his coun­try at his fourth world cham­pi­onships, held in Lithua­nia in Au­gust.

The 39-year-old, who only took up the sport in his late 20s, said he was com­fort­able be­ing Aus­tralia’s most ex­pe­ri­enced team mem­ber.

“The first cou­ple of years I rep­re­sented Aus­tralia, there was a guy older than me in the team and he’s been in the team pretty much ev­ery year since the world cham­pi­onships started,” he said.

“So back then I was look­ing up to him, but by now I’m by far the most se­nior per­son in the team.

“All but one of the team mem­bers have rep­re­sented Aus­tralia in the past, but I still see my­self as having the most ex­pe­ri­ence, hope­fully di­rect­ing what hap­pens.”

Thack­ray said he was hop­ing to bet­ter his top 40 fin­ish in the long dis­tance event at last year’s cham­pi­onships, but ad­mit­ted it would be a hard task.

“You think this time you’ll do re­ally well, but then you re­alise how much bet­ter Euro­peans are than the rest of the world,” he said. “That’s what they do; they do it for a liv­ing.

“I got into the top 40 with one race last year and thought I am faster this year than I was last year.”

While he has ramped up the train­ing over the past year, Thack­ray has also had time to im­prove the lo­cal cir­cuits around Perth.

“I’m the lo­cal or­gan­iser of events here as well, I’ve been up­dat­ing and cre­at­ing new ar­eas for us to ride in to try and pro­mote the sport,” he said.

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek

Moun­tain bike rider Ricky Thack­ray. d453566

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