Australian Olympic track cycling team preview
With the London Games only days away, it seems inevitable that we Aussies will be in for some pain. While we won’t face a “Montreal Moment”, the pain will be felt when Great Britain finishes well above us in the medal table.
To be honest, I am at ease with the fact Great Britain will perform better than us at these games. Not only are the economies of scale in their favour, the Brits are expected to do well as it is the British Games.
So how does the Australian games movement get something out of these games? Simple, break the hearts of the British in Track Cycling and it is possible.
So much emotional energy has been invested by the Brits in this particular sport (even knighthoods); it is one event they would loathe to under-perform in.
The British Olympic revival began with a complete domination of the Australian cyclists at the Beijing Olympics. Britain won eight gold medals while Australia came home with a solitary silver medal (Anna Meares) with a team that was generally considered to be picked based on history.
While it seemed like the British team would become dominant, this has not been the case.
At the four world championships since Beijing, Australia has not only won more medals overall than Britain (47-37), but has won the most gold medals at three of the four events (They tied with Britain at the 2012 event in Melbourne).
It is fair to say that the Aussies have the wood over the British team as winning form is good form.
Australia’s track cycling team I believe, have the ability to topple the British at their home games.
If you delve into analysing our track cycling team, there is a lot to get excited about.
Our team is spearheaded obviously by our track superstars in Jack Bobridge and Anna Meares.
Meares is a veteran looking for her first gold medal since Athens and while her duel with ‘Queen’ Victoria Pendleton will be top billing, she will be a strong favourite in the team sprint and the Keirin.
Her raw speed is a huge asset and combined with her competitiveness, makes Meares a dangerous prospect.
Bobridge, on the other hand, is a product of the post-Beijing cycling revolution. He is the world’s best male pursuit rider as not only is he bloody quick, but he also possesses a great tactical brain. A win would be a great vindication for the support he received after being caught drink driving at the beginning of the year.
Beyond our well-known track superstars, there are some hidden gems in the team.
The sprint trio of Matthew Glaetzer, Shane Perkins and Scott Sutherland were considered a “work in progress” by the AOC. This work-in-progress squad didn’t get the message, shocking the world with a win in the men’s team sprint.
The British pursuit team, lead by Chris Hoy, once won races in a canter, but it took a world record at this year’s World Championships to overcome a dogged Australian team that included 3 of our brightest prospects in O’Shea, Dennis and Hepburn.
On the female side of the competition, watch out for our pursuit team. While they only won silver at the World Championships this year, the improvement has been extraordinary.
So while the British look likely to finish well ahead of Australia, let’s focus on winning little battles that mean so much to the British.
A loss in the tack cycling to Australia would leave the British catatonic and be a great win for a team considered gone in 2008.
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