By Paul Verkuylen
Shane Kelly has already attended four Olympic Games in his long and distinguished career, but retirement is the furthest thing from his mind as he prepares for an assault on the Beijing Olympics a little over eight months away.
"I am still enjoying it, that the main thing. If all goes well and I get to Beijing and have a great event there and a great result, it'd be silly if I didn't go on," he told Cyclingnews during a break in the program at the Launceston track carnival.
No other Australian cyclist has ever attended more than four Olympics in the history of the games, and if Kelly qualifies himself for his fifth games, the 35-year-old will be in a league of his own.
Kelly began his Olympic career in 1992 as a kilo rider, an event that no longer features in the program. He took three world titles in the event, and a bronze medal in the 2000 games in Sydney. Since the Athens Olympics he has transformed himself from a kilo rider to a sprinter and keirin rider, and took a bronze medal in the keirin in Athens, but admits that he would have gone in that direction regardless of whether the event was included or not.
"Athens was my last kilo as far as I was concerned. I had given everything that I had to the kilo. But I think I would have gone in that direction anyway." Kelly took fourth place in the kilo in Athens.
Kelly is in Tasmania chasing more UCI points as well as honing his skills against some of the best competition around. He and the Victorian Institute of Sport team have had some exciting battles with the Japanese team, with the score currently at one all in the team sprint series.
After Tasmania Kelly will head back to Adelaide for more training before heading to the Los Angeles round of the World Cup and the Nationals in Sydney just a week and a half after Los Angeles.
It has not yet been decided if Kelly will take part in the Copenhagen round of the World Cup. "It will depend on how L.A. goes and who still needs to get points to qualify for the Olympics," he explained.
It is too early to say whether or not Kelly will make the team for his fifth successive Olympics, but he seems quietly confident that he is within a fighting chance.
"I am slowly putting marks on the board here and there but I still have a lot of work to do. I am not there at all as a definite yet, but I am certainly putting marks on the board," he said.