A disappointing World Track Championships
Australia let some opportunities slip at the World Championships in Minsk, and not only did they not win as many medals as might have been anticipated, Australia got beaten by Great Britain. Again.
Even though it was the Track World Championships, coming just a few months after the Olympics, Minsk was always going to struggle to match the amazing highlights of London.
Less than capacity attendances and an event shorn of the many big names you expect to ‘disappear’ after an Olympics campaign didn’t help, but any chance to see Australia do battle with the Poms on the boards is one to savour.
And while the men’s team pursuiters did exact some revenge on Team GB with a stunning ride, as happened in London, we got shown up.
Britain rode away with a table topping nine medals, including five gold, two silver and two bronze.
Australia’s eight medals consisted of two gold, two silver and four bronze, enough for third on the medal table behind Germany – three gold, three silver and two bronze.
Importantly, in the events you only see in the Olympics, Team GB won four of the ten medals on offer, compared to our one.
A little more numerical comparison shows that Team GB and Australia had six of their Olympic riders in Minsk.
So while both nations clearly treated Minsk as a transition event, there’s no denying Team GB will be the happier with the results.
Michael Hepburn was our only individual gold medallist. Team GB had Becky James (two gold), Jason Kenny and Simon Yates.
Like Australia, GB won one team event, the women’s team pursuit.
And while credit should also go to the super consistent Nettie Edmondson (one silver and two bronze in events she again lost to Laura Trott and Sarah Hammer), some of the other medal prospects just didn’t materialise.
Our sprinters failed to claim any medals at all, with Kaarle McCulloch and Matt Glaetzer surprisingly disappointing.
In the absence of Anna Meares, maybe McCulloch thought she would naturally make the transition and didn’t count on the sudden emergence of new national sprint champion and Paralympic (tandem pilot) gold medallist Stephanie Morton.
Morton finished sixth and McCulloch seventh in the sprint, while McCulloch also placed sixth in the 500m time trial.
The duo combined for fourth in the team sprint, but didn’t do so well in the Keirin. Morton crashed out in the second round and McCulloch managed no better than 11th.
McCulloch is now headed to Japan for more Keirin racing, where hopefully she can rediscover her form.
Glaetzer finished fifth in the men’s sprint, fourth in the team sprint and eighth in the Keirin.
So not a real bad performance, but take real life boyfriend and girlfriend Michael Hepburn and Annette Edmondson out of the medal mix and suddenly the results look a little thin.
Maybe new senior track coach Tim Decker, who had stunning success recently with South Australia at the national championships, can pick up the baton left by outgoing coach Ian McKenzie.
McKenzie has left a more than promising legacy for Decker, but they won’t want to let opportunities like Minsk slip away next time, transition year or not.