I ride day after day because I love it. I love having direction in my life with something to work towards. I love the feeling of satisfaction you get after setting a goal and achieving it. I love pushing myself beyond my own expectations. I also love the travel, the people you meet, the support you receive, feeling fit and of course the social side of cycling, such as group training rides, coffee shop stops and the connections you make with other cyclists from all over the world. I love the track/road season combination due to the variation in training. It also means a variation in training environments; from company to location. Keeping things fresh helps keep me motivated.
I started cycling when I was 13 after the South Australian Sports Institute tested students at my primary school and identified me as having the physical attributes to have a potential career in cycling. Despite already participating in three soccer teams, playing volleyball, basketball, athletics and swimming I gave cycling a go. After the year-long Talent Search program, I was hooked. I went to my first Track National Championships in 2006 where I won two bronze medals in the Under 17 500m Time Trial and Sprint. Over the next few years all my other sports fizzled out and I started to specialise as a track sprinter.
I went to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in 2007, then represented Australia at the Junior World Championships in 2008 and 2009 where I took home a silver and bronze medal in the Sprint and Keirin.
In 2009, things started going downhill. I no-longer enjoyed cycling and by February 2010, I had lost my passion completely. My results soon mimicked my attitude and so I decided to have an indefinite break.
After dabbling in a couple of part-time jobs I returned to cycling just four months later. Things had to change if I was to enjoy the sport again, so I switched from sprinting to track endurance. This gave me new goals and a completely different challenge. After eight months, thousands of kilometres and 9 kilograms later, I was the 2011 Australian Omnium and Scratch Race Champion. I had successfully made the switch to track endurance racing.
I dabled on the road for two months in Holland in 2011 with the Australian Institute of Sport’s women’s track endurance team which gave me a taste of European road racing.
During the 2012 track season I raced my first senior World Cup for in Colombia. I showed further development at the 2012 track national championships where I broke the eight-year-standing Australian All-Comers Record in the 3km Individual Pursuit as well as points race gold and scratch race silver.
After a successful bid at the London Track World Cup where I took home two silvers in the Omnium and Team Pursuit, I was named in my first Track World Championship team to race in Melbourne in April 2012. Once again, the team of Josie Tomic, Melissa Hoskins and I claimed silver in the Team Pursuit, whilst I also took silver in the Omnium.
These performances were enough for my selection into the 2012 Australian Olympic Team – the then highlight of my career. After the ups and downs of my short stint in cycling, I had somehow managed to make it to the Olympic Games. After a disappointing 4th in the team pursuit, I took home one of my now-favourite posessions, an Olympic Bronze medal from the Women’s Omnium. Standing on the podium receiving my medal was one of the most incredible moments of my life; I was hyperventilating with excitement. Words cannot describe how it felt.
In 2013 I signed a professional road contract with Orica-AIS. Although I struggled initially with the switch from track to road I really enjoyed my first year with the team. I helped the team to a number of wins, took a couple for myself and also came away with a bronze medal in the team time trial at the Road World Championships in Florence.
In 2014 I fell short of my dream of becoming a track World Champion for the 3rd year in a row. I returned with 2 bronze medals in both the Omnium and Team Pursuit, alongside teammates Amy Cure, Melissa Hoskins and Bella King. Whilst it’s always an honour to stand on the podium for your country, to come so close yet not finish it off was becoming rather frustrating.
Five months later I became the Commonwealth Games scratch race Champion! This was so special, not only because I had finally crossed the line first at a major international competition, but because unlike the World Championships and Olympics, I was out there with two teammates, Amy Cure and Melissa Hoskins. Mel and Amy worked so hard for me and it was so special to know they had the confidence in me to let me finish it off. Amy also managed to hold on to silver, so we had an even greater reason to celebrate!
I returned to my Orica-AIS team for the final two months of the 2014 road season and after a eventful few weeks, managed to bring home silver in the Team Time Trial at the 2014 Road World Championships In Ponteferrada, Spain. This was a brilliant result for us and a great way to finish my time with Orica-AIS.
After a fast 2015 track season, I managed to finally break my bridesmaid-spell and came home with not just one, but two gold medals at the Track World Championships in France. To win one was amazing, but two was an absolute dream come true. What was most special was sharing the podium with three teammates, Mel, Amy and Ash. We had been through so much over the years, so finally be able to celebrate not just a win, but a *world record* together was so special.
I had a brilliant time with Orica-AIS and developed so much on the road due to their support, however I moved to Wiggle-Honda Pro Cycling team in 2015, as I needed a change. The team consisted of 15 riders from 11 different nations and we all got along so well. I really enjoyed getting to know a whole range of different people, including our staff. I had a few podiums throughout the year and was part of the team time trial team who came 4th at the Team Time Trial World Championships in Richmond in September. Although we were hoping for a podium, we made a drastic improvement to finish just 14s short.
2016 was all about the track. We worked so hard and gave every second of every minute. Unfortunately Gold in Rio was not meant to be. Despite a fantastic lead-in, we had a crash three days out from competition. Everyone came down, except for me. To see them all lying, sprawled out on the track was gut-wrenching. We kept the chins up, had a crack, and came home with 5th in the Team Pursuit. I then raced the omnium and despite winning the sprint rounds, ran out of gas in the final event and finished up 8th. We were devastated.
It took a lot of time for me to deal with the disappointment of Rio. I had 10 weeks off in the three months following, spent travelling and at home with friends and family. I chose to skip the track season and head to the road early which meant I could finally have a crack at the famous ‘classics’ which I knew would suit me. Power, cobbles, short power climbs – certainly up my alley when road-fit!
Sure enough, I was able to slip into WiggleHigh5’s A-team for a number of the big races and even managed to win a smaller one for myself. Finally the road-drought was over. I hadn’t won a European race since 2013! I had a second win in a Prologue in Belgium later in the year before things started to slope downhill.
My thyroid started to ‘play up’, sending me from ‘Acute Hyperthyroidism’ to ‘Hypothyroidism’ in a number of weeks. I ended the season early and flew back to Australia at the start of October.
My health has since stabilised and I have now returned to my wonderful Australian track squad ahead of the 2018 track season, with our sights set on the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
I’ve had an interesting background. My parents used to work for Shell which meant travelling all over the globe. It’s for this reason that I grew up in Malaysia, Oman and Holland, before coming to Australia when I was six. I have two brothers; an older and younger and a black Labrador who is very much a family member!
I was a very competitive child, attending early school years overseas. I then attended Victor Harbor Primary School in South Australia, later moving to St John’s Grammar School in the Adelaide hills. I kept myself busy with many different pursuits, including soccer, dancing, basketball, debating, drama, piano, clarinet, recorder, amateur dramatics, indoor and beach volleyball, swimming, athletics, pole vault and long-distance running events!!
At school I chose elective subjects such as art, drama and Indonesian, as well as extension maths and English. I then started to volunteer at Reconciliation South Australia and World Vision and in 2007 I was the Make Indigenous Poverty History Youth Ambassador for South Australia, participating in a national trip to Redfern, New South Wales. I received school academic excellence and endeavour awards each year from 2004-2008 and won the school award for ‘Personal Achievement’ in 2008.
By this stage, my cycling career was in full swing, and I had to look at more flexible ways of completing my schooling and keeping my options open. This resulted in me completing a ‘Special Tertiary Admissions Test’, a two-hour test used to get into university, mainly for adult re-entry and luckily scored the equivalent of a 99.0 TER. I was then able to go straight to university without completing any further year 12 subjects. Although I originally applied for Art Studies, I decided I wanted to get into Medicine. Unfortunately I didn’t make it past the final interview stage, so I chose to study a Bachelor of Health Science part-time, with the hope of transferring to Medicine after I finish cycling.
During my time off the bike in 2010, I travelled around Indonesia with two good school friends and then volunteered for a week in a Street Children’s Shelter. This was a pretty moving experience and my six years of studying Indonesian proved invaluable as I was able to talk to the children and hear their stories. I hope to return there when time permits to visit the children and one day volunteer as a doctor or social worker; depending on where life takes me!
My favourite things to do when I’m not training are to head to the beach, relax with friends watching movies at home, meet friends at a coffee shop, or if there’s enough time, get out a blank canvas and start painting. I also like to travel, experience different cultures and am fascinated by language. I’m a fan of chocolate milk and have to admit that I was a chocoholic, forcing myself to go on a year-long ban in 2010. I am glad to report that things are much better in that department now!