Aussie riders hit golden form
THE stunning success of Australia’s track cyclists at the world championships has raised the possibility of them replacing the swimmers as the nation’s flagship t e a m a t n e x t y e a r ’ s Olympics. Spearheaded by Anna Meares, they enjoyed a record-breaking week at Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, powering to eight gold medals.
That included victories in six of the 10 Olympic events.
With Australia ending last year without a swimmer ranked No. 1 in the world in an Olympic event, the cyclists appear to be filling the breach 16 months out from the London Games.
In between the smiles and tears following Australia’s best medal haul at a world championships – eight gold, two silver, one bronze – was the gnawing reality that the job is far from done.
‘‘ The really big competitors in the world have yet to really raise their hands,’’ Cycling Australia national performance director Kevin Tabotta warned.
Athens Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares enjoyed a breakthrough competiti o n , w i n n i n g t h e t e a m sprint, sprint and keirin.
Her win over British archrival Victoria Pendleton on the way to her maiden sprint world title was enormous as a psychological fillip going towards London 2012.
‘‘ It was a huge relief, it was incredible satisfaction and it was finally . . . I can do this,’’ she said.
Shane Perkins’ trumping of British cycling great Sir Chris Hoy in the keirin demonstrated how the balance of power was tipping in Australia’s favour.