By Ben Abrahams
Aussie track cyclist Ben Kersten and elder brother Joshua, himself a Commonwealth Games medallist in 1998, are lending their support to a program at the Illawarra Academy of Sport (IAS) based in Wollongong, New South Wales, which aims to produce the next generation of riders fit for international competition. The program will provide equipment, accommodation and financial support to aid youngsters in traveling to races within Australia.
"I know what talented riders need to be the best," said Ben Kersten. "The support provided by these new sponsors will give IAS riders the best chance yet to succeed.
"I've designed all my own clothing with my sponsors and their clothing is identical except for a few changes. They're supposed to look like me and we're trying to ride the same equipment then we're all tied in together."
The Academy is predominantly aimed at under 17 riders but the support may extend further if more funding can be secured. "We don't want to get rid of someone just because they're under 19 and they might not be ready to go to the next level yet," said Kersten. "Hopefully with some more funding we can support them further to the next step."
After bagging two gold medals in the kilo and omnium at last week's Australian Track Championships, Kersten will head to Japan in May for a three-month assault on the Japanese keirin scene. "It will be good [preparation for next season] because it's in our off season but it's also more of a positive step for my future," he said.