By Paul Verkuylen
The Masters Track World Championships begin on Tuesday October 16 at the Dunc Gray velodrome in Sydney, with the official launch being held today at the Bankstown sports club, the main sponsors of the event that is open to all competitors aged 30 and over.
The event comes after eighteen months of hard work by the eight member organising committee headed by event coordinator, Chris Koke from Cycling Australia, with the support of the Bankstown Sports club. "We are pleased with the turn-out. With over 400 competitors we are expecting great competition across the board," Koke said.
424 competitors from 24 nations, including the likes of Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain, USA and, of course, Australia, will be competing for medals and world championship jerseys in five events: the time trial, pursuit, scratch race, teams sprint and sprint.
One rider who is looking forward to lining up for his first event of the competition after months of hard work is Australian Keith Oliver, who was named the rider of the championships last year in Manchester after he took world titles in three events.
"I wouldn't say I am the favourite in any events, there are a lot of really good riders in the field, any of which is capable of taking the win. We will just have to wait and see," Oliver said modestly to the assembled press.
Oliver missed out on winning the sprint at last year's event, beaten by Earl Henry of Trinidad and Tobago, and has no doubt been training hard lately in order to turn that result around. "I do all of my training between 9:30 and 10:45 at night. With a stressful full time job, I am not able to fit it in at any other time," Oliver said, explaining how he finds the time to work full time and compete at an international level.
"Also, my wife is very understanding," he added before presenting the Bankstown sports club with one of his World championship jerseys from last year's championships, in recognition of the support that they have provided for the championships.
Dunc Gray velodrome was originally built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and since has been used for many elite track meets, yet many competitors and officials believe that the track may well be at its fastest. "As the boards get older they become harder, which in turn makes the track faster," commented Oliver.
Although there are no official world records for the master's categories, as their times are to be compared to those of any cyclist outside of the junior ranks, there are 'Worlds fastest times' recorded for each age group. Many of these times are expected to fall over the next week as the world's best Masters cyclists compete to win a world title in their discipline.