March 25, 2016
2015 was a dream come true. The Women’s Track endurance squad had one goal, to win the Team Pursuit and we didn’t just do that, but did it in World Record time. We then went on to win the Individual Pursuit, the Omnium and then came second in the Scratch Race, by a fraction. It couldn’t really have gone much better, which is why our sights were set high for 2016.
All seemed to plan throughout the season, we were training just as hard, were doing similar times and were really positive going into race day. Some may think we were overconfident, but we weren’t, we just focused on ourselves and made sure we were in the best shape possible. Race day just didn’t seem to work for us this time around. We qualified fourth fastest, .2 of a second off second place. We were still in the medal hunt, but we knew we were better than that. We had a few changes to make, so we knew the next day would be different.
Round 1 wasn’t much better. We had to beat USA to make it into the final, despite them going nearly four seconds faster than us in qualifying. We knew we were going to go faster than our qualifying ride, so we truly believed we had a shot. The Americans had surprised us the day before, surely they wouldn’t go faster in the final…
But they did. They rode a 4 minute 14 second first round. That’s moving. The track conditions weren’t perfect, so that was a really impressive time. We gave it everything we could and rode two seconds faster than our qualifying, but so did the other teams, including Great Britain (who had stuffed up their qualifying) which gave us the fifth fastest time, sending us into the 5th/6th ride off against Italy. Although extremely disappointed to finish 5th after the highs of last year, we knew there was more up our sleeve; we just have to work out what happened. America went on to win the gold, ahead of Canada and Great Britain. It was pretty exciting to see the Americans step up for the first time since the Olympics and really demonstrate a new depth in women’s team pursuiting.
The following day was the Omnium, but I wasn’t on form. The Team Pursuit gives you a good idea of where you’re at, not just as a team, but individually, within the team. In Adelaide I was on hot form, pulling 1/2-2 lap turns in our team pursuit efforts. In London, I was pulling 1/2 laps. Whether being hit by a car (four days before we left for London) played a role in this drop of form or not, I knew I was not where I needed to be. With a combination of six events, a lot can happen in an omnium; there are many opportunities for people to not only do well, but also stuff up. Despite not being physically where I wanted to be, I was still in with a chance.
The Scratch Race was fine. I felt surprisingly good and finished eighth. I wanted to be higher up against some of my main competitors, but this was a good starting point. The Individual Pursuit was next. I ‘crept’. Last year I did a 3 minute 32s. In New Zealand, 3 months ago, I did a 3:34 without a taper. My coach, Matt decided to put me on a 3:36 schedule based on how I felt in the Team Pursuit, and if I felt good, I could lift at the end. I knew I’d be fine and that I could definitely target a 3:34…. but I did a 3:39. The slowest I’ve been in a long time. This was a huge knock to the system. Seven seconds slower than last year. I came eleventh in the IP which knocked my overall score right back down and suddenly, the Omnium became a game of survival.
I’m not going to lie, it was hard to get myself back out to the track that night. The Elimination was at 10:30pm, which meant I had time to ride back to the hotel, eat dinner and then had to mentally psych myself up again for my fifth event of the championships. My form was worse than I thought, but I had to do everything I could to put that thought out of my mind and get the most out of the Elimination, if not just for now, as practise for the Olympics.
I gave it a crack and finished fifth. I was happy with that! I feel the IP is a pretty good representation of your overall fitness, so for someone to rank eleventh out of twenty, a fifth result wasn’t too shabby. The next day’s events suited me, so I could go home and try and get some sleep before the final three races of the 2016 Omnium World Championships.
I won the 500m Time Trial. That event suits me down to the ground, but it really was a relief to see I still ‘had’ it, despite the last few days. Third in the Flying Lap saw me bump up into fourth overall before the final event, the Points Race.
I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t defending a podium, this was my chance to shake things up and get myself up on that dais. I was pumped to race aggressively and give it a crack. After the first sprint, however I realised I was in trouble. The legs had absolutely nothing. I felt like i was being dragged around like a stubborn dog on a leash. I tried once or twice (rather poorly) to make a move, but nothing worked and I was resigned to follow wheels. All I wanted was for the race to finish so I could get out of the sight of my teammates and family watching back home. It’s not that I didn’t know what to do or how to race, it was just that my legs weren’t there, and there’s not a whole lot you can do when that happens! I finished fifth, and to be honest, I was actually pretty happy with that.
Given everything, especially my revealing IP time, there wasn’t much more I could have done. Matt was happy to see me get through it and we were able to take away some positives leading into the next few months. Anything can happen in bike racing, you’ve just got to learn to work with the cards you’re dealt. Hopefully I receive a better hand in the next few months as we start to gear up towards the craziness that will be the Rio Olympics! Just under five months to go..!
Photography: Wei Yuet