Australians disappointed

Cycling Australia has expressed surprise and disappointment to the news that the UCI has decided to...

Cycling Australia has expressed surprise and disappointment to the news that the UCI has decided to drop the men's kilo and the women's 500m time trial from the Beijing Olympics.

"All federations were invited to make submissions to the UCI and this is certainly the first we've heard that the track time trial events were being targeted for removal from the Games program," said Cycling Australia, CEO, Graham Fredericks. "I would have to say this is especially disappointing for the women sprinters who now only have one event they can contest at Olympic Games level.

"We were very strongly against any women's track medals being dropped because of the knock-on effect it may have on women's sprint cycling across the board."

The women's 500 metre time trial was introduced at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the reigning world record holder and Athens Olympic gold medallist, Queensland's Anna Meares, said she is shocked by the decision.

"I am very disappointed to put it politely and really mad to be honest," said Meares. "I don't understand their logic. I think they should have looked at other avenues because the time trials are two of the most exciting events on the track."

Evidence of the popularity of the track events is the fact the velodromes consistently sell out at Olympic Games. "Women already have less events at the Olympics and I think women's sprinting will suffer for it," said Meares who also claimed bronze in the sprint at the Olympic Games in Athens. "I find it hard to believe all the countries have agreed to this and I'd like an explanation from the UCI as to why they made this choice because as it stands I have no idea why."

Meares anger is understandable as the decision has effectively cut her medal chances in half. "It feels like all of a sudden instead of training and working hard to achieve two goals at Olympics they've just cut my career in half," she said. "It will also now make it harder to get sponsorship and support because I will have just one race and one chance for exposure."

The men's one kilometre time trial was introduced to the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928 and in 1932 Edgar 'Dunc' Gray won Australia's first ever cycling Olympic gold medal when he won the kilometre. Russell Mockridge brought the gold medal back to Australia after the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.

Victorian Shane Kelly, who has contested the event at the past four Olympic Games, was also surprised by the announcement. Kelly is a past world record holder and three time world champion in the event and his Olympic record includes 'kilo' silver in Barcelona in 1992, bronze in Sydney in 2000 and a fourth place last year in Athens

"It's definitely a shock and very disappointing especially when you consider it is one of the most hotly contested events at the Olympic Games," said Kelly. "In Athens four guys went under the Olympic record and the 'kilo' is a great 'edge of the seat' event for the fans."

33 year old Kelly is considered the veteran of the Australian team but in a 13 year international career has consistently performed on the world stage. More recently, Kelly has focussed on the keirin in which he claimed Olympic bronze in Athens and bronze at the 2005 World Championships in Los Angeles in March.

"It was my dream for so long to get the 'kilo' gold but I suppose that dream is well and truly over now," said Kelly. "I hadn't decided yet whether or not to try for it in Beijing but I don't have a choice now."

Kelly also described the decision to cut the women's 500m event as 'pretty rude' pointing to the limited number of events available for his female team mates to contest.

Both events will however remain in the programs for the Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

Back to top