An interview with James Victor, February 10, 2004
After seven years as an Australian Institute of Sport coach, most recently and notably in charge of the Italian-based Australian women's team, James Victor is returning to his native Queensland to look after the state's cycling program. He spoke to Kristy Scymgeour about his plans and his legacy at the AIS.
James Victor has recently resigned from the position of Australian Institute of Sport Women's Cycling coach, to take on a new position at the Queensland Academy of Sport. After seven years as AIS coach, Victor leaves the position on the eve of an Olympic year, handing over his role to ACT Academy of Sport coach, Warren McDonald. Victor still holds the position of National Coach, however, which will take him to the Olympics in Athens this year.
Happy with his new role, which started on February 2, James Victor believes his home state of Queensland in north eastern Australia, has a lot to offer cycling, and has big plans for the athletes.
"I think Queensland, as a state, has an unlimited amount of qualities to offer any sportsperson," said Victor, "and the respective cyclists that show the potential and desire to achieve at the highest level in our great sport, will experience a proposed 'team orientated' approach to what Queensland has to offer. From traveling to races over the past couple of years, I have been fortunate enough to experience, and see what other countries have to offer for training and competition, and I am convinced Queensland is arguably the best place in the world for any athlete to build a solid foundation and prepare for any level of competition. With that I plan to guide the Queensland cyclists to a level of work ethic and professionalism that has them ready to tackle any competitions and successes they believe they can achieve."
Victor's successor Warren McDonald has already had a lot of involvement with the Australian women cyclists, coaching many of them through the off season and according to Victor, they have both been working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible for the athletes.
"Warren and I have already discussed the proposed plans for the AIS women this year, traveling to Italy in early March, with the team tackling the European spring world cups and classics," said Victor. "I will continue as the Australian women's national road coach until the Olympics, primarily involved with the selection processes of the women's road team, the final training camp and road competitions in Athens."
As coach and director of the AIS and National team, Victor was there when Liz Tadich and Anna Millward took silver medals in the 1997 and 1999 world championships, respectively, and when Millward won the world cup series in 1999. He has seen many of the Australian athletes go on to join UCI trade teams and finally he saw the Australian women grow in strength to become the UCI number one ranked nation in 2003. Victor believes that it is the attitude of the athletes and staff that has made the AIS cycling program so successful in recent years.
"I think what the AIS/Australian program, both the elite women and under 23 men has developed through the more recent years, is a common belief amongst the cyclists and staff that we travel to the home of cycling in Europe, the hardest competition in the world, with no misunderstandings or misapprehensions and a clear direction and purpose. We don't just hope that we might be successful. All of our cyclists work extremely hard, and have made significant sacrifices to undertake cycling as a part of their lives so that they can be successful in taking on the best in the world."
Being based in Italy during the season certainly makes that task much easier to achieve.
"With the AIS road programs being based together in Italy, it offers any aspiring Australian cyclist the opportunity to work with the best development available, and gives them exposure to what the 'coal face' of international cycling is all about. The week-to-week grind of fronting up to world championship level competition not only fulfills every cyclist's dream of competing on the international stage, but it is certainly a reality check as to the decision we've all made of tackling such a tough sport. As many of our international competitors have experienced, Australia certainly breeds tough and strong-willed athletes."