Life after 40 heads down a different track
By Gerard Knapp
Her description in reports when racing as an elite cyclist was "always Lyn Nixon, mother of two", such was the novelty of a mother with teenage children racing among women considerably younger and unencumbered with family responsibilities. Nixon represented Australia at the highest level, was open road champion and at the same time also managed to raise her family. Now in her mid '40s and "officially empty-nested", she has taken on a somewhat different career trajectory - that of head coach of the cycling program for Malaysia.
Nixon lives in Western Australia and "was in a suit in a corporate marketing job" after retiring as an elite cyclist. At the same time, she was studying coaching and training a women's group in riding skills. Nixon met officials from the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) and suggested they think of using her home city, Perth, as a training base prior to the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.
In the lead-up to the Games, the Western Australian capital city has found favour with elite riders from UK nations such as England, Scotland and Wales due its warm, dry weather, relatively light traffic and flat roads. Also, the Western Australia Institute of Sport (WAIS) is very accommodating and helpful to visiting riders, so Nixon suggested the Malaysians may also like to use Perth as a base to prepare. Much to her surprise, the MNCF told her they were sending almost all their national squad to Perth. The then head coach resigned his position, so the MNCF offered the job to Nixon, who was both surprised and delighted to take on the job.
Her first task - and with only several days notice - was to get the Malaysian track riders prepared to enter the Australian National Track Cycling Championships (the Malaysians, as well as riders from the USA, were allowed to compete in the Australian championships). In fact, it is this aspect of cycling in Australia that convinced Nixon she should take the job. "Australian cycling has been really supportive. Martin Barras (Australia's national sprint coach) has been my mentor coach and he's been absolutely brilliant, so helpful.
"I wouldn't have taken on this job without their support," she said.
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