World and Olympic Champion Sarah Ulmer, together with her New Zealand countryman and current Olympic Triathlon Champion Hamish Carter, paid a visit to Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome to show their support for the juniors competing in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival this week.
"We are here to encourage and support the New Zealand team as well as the other juniors," said Ulmer. "We will be popping into all venues on our two day stay here in Sydney, but we had to come to my favourite sport of course. We had the opportunity to speak at the Team meeting last night and to share our knowledge and experiences and get the team pumped for the upcoming competition. The New Zealand team is just 'fizzing'. They are so excited to be here and to be apart of the event."
The pair's visit to the velodrome inspired some of their compatriots, including New Zealand Junior Champion, Rushlee Buchanan, who celebrated her 17th Birthday on Thursday. She was given the best present of all when Sarah Ulmer lent her a pair of her own racing wheels to use for the evening's bronze medal showdown in the Individual Pursuit.
"They are great Kiwi ambassadors," said Buchanan. "Sarah is there to help us all the time and when I ride with her at club races it makes you feel really special to sit on her wheel. She is a great role model for me and all of the team and I definitely want to follow in her footsteps. Hopefully, her wheels will help me tonight."
Both Ulmer and Carter were quick to praise the AOC for setting up the AYOF wishing they had the opportunity when they were younger. "This competition is absolutely brilliant," added Ulmer. "Most young athletes don't get the opportunity to compete on such a high class facility let alone compete against the best from other nations. I would have loved the chance when I was younger."
Carter added, "The AYOF is a great learning ground for what occurs at the actual Olympic Games. You have to deal with uniforms, rules and procedures, drug testing and traffic delays which all add to the pressure of a big event. It is great for them to have this experience now. It will definitely help them latter on in their cycling careers."
Both Ulmer and Carter are enjoying their break away from international competition and training, with Ulmer still not stating when she will return to full time training, "I'm loving life at the moment. I'm just cruising and keeping fit doing other sports. I'm in no hurry to get back into things."
Cyclingnews will be publishing full results and reports from the Australian Youth Olympics.