They make them tough in the Edmondson family, and less than two weeks after colliding with a car Annette Edmondson is gearing up for the Track World Championships in a few days' time. Edmondson will be defending two world titles in London in the team pursuit and the omnium.
Those two gold medals in France were her first world titles, and the moniker of champion is one that the 24-year-old is still coming to terms with 12 months on, and she's hoping that will help her going into London. "I still don't see myself as a World Champion. I saw a photo of myself, from behind, riding in the bunch with the rainbows on and it hit me that hey I'm the world champion and I'm technically the best in that group, and I'm the one that everybody is after and want’s to beat."
"It's strange because for so long I've been the chaser and the underdog. Even though it's been a year it still doesn't feel like I'm on top. I think I'm going to go in with that mindset and maybe try and forget that last year did happen.
Australia's endurance women also took the individual pursuit with Rebecca Wiasak and, despite her setback, Edmondson has got high hopes. "After the success of last year, we want to keep the ball rolling especially with it being a home crowd. That's going to be an added challenge for us because it does make a difference," she said.
"We want to stay on top and take that advantage into Rio. If we can win here, then it is going to put us a few steps in front. We're not sure what we're going to expect, but we're aiming for the win, and we'll be disappointed if we don't get that."
Edmondson's title defence almost didn't happen after she collided with a car on a blind corner while riding at around 50kph. Aside from a large bruise on her leg, she came out largely unscathed and – judging by the photos – it was the car that came out worse. There were some initial concerns about her shoulder when she was unable to lift it for some days. That has healed, and she had her first track session in London on Thursday, which went better than ever.
Edmondson is resilient and after a fleeting moment of doubt, she was confident she would make the Worlds. "As I was flying through the air, when I was about to hit the car, and I knew that there was going to be no other hope of avoiding it the first thing that went through my head was 'ok it's my turn'," Edmondson explained.
"I've had a lot of close calls but I've never hit a car before, and it was just this acceptance that it was my turn. I hit it and once I felt the pain through my body I was like 'oh no'. I landed on the floor, and it's funny in these situations. As I was lying there, I was like 'oh my God, I leave on Sunday. Not now…' Afterwards, though, I was feeling relief that I was ok, and I had avoided that one. It never really crossed my mind that I wasn't going to worlds."
All about Rio
Defending her two world titles are an important marker in Edmondson's season but, for her, the only result that matters will be the Olympics in Rio. At just 20 years old, Edmondson rode the Olympic Games in London after earning a late selection. She went well, though, taking a bronze medal in the Omnium behind Laura Trott (Great Britain) and Sarah Hammer (USA) and she can't wait to have another go at it.
"It's huge," she said. "It's pretty much the main reason I ride my bike it to make it to the Olympic Games. Memories of that blow my mind. In London, I was a lot younger and inexperienced, and it had come so quickly. I think even five months before the Olympics I wasn't even in the team to make the Games so I was just going as hard as I could in such a short space of time. I'm feeling a lot more relaxed this time, and I know what to expect, so that's comforting."
Four years ago, the Australian women missed out on a medal in the team pursuit, eventually finishing in fourth place. Their performances now are a world away from that, and they've proved themselves as favourites for the title come Rio. Edmondson believes that they got stuck in a rut and some much-needed changes were what they needed to get back to where they used to be.
"There are two events for the endurance women, and we're going for two golds," Edmondson told Cyclingnews. "We've implemented quite a few changes in the team. It has instilled a new sense of belief, and that is what we were lacking in the past few years.
"We needed to change something because we had been doing the same thing again and again since the success of the 2010 Australia world champs. It obviously worked for them but because other nations lost and they obviously implemented changes, and they became better than us. It was about time that we stepped up our game."
The 2016 UCI Track World Championships begin on Wednesday, March 2.
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