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Australia pursuiters claim three golds at Junior Worlds

The men's individual pursuit podium (l-r): Konstantin Kuperasov, Michael Hepburn and Ivan Savitskiy

The men's individual pursuit podium (l-r): Konstantin Kuperasov, Michael Hepburn and Ivan Savitskiy (Image credit: Vassev Stoyan)

Australia's track program may have endured some criticism in the past few years, but its junior riders have given the country new vigour at the Junior Track World Championships in Moscow this week. After a successful campaign in the elite world championships in Poland earlier this year, the next generation has maintained the momentum in the Russian capital.

Michael Hepburn broke the world record twice on his way to the win in the men's 3km individual pursuit. The teams female pursuiters began the championships by taking gold and silver in the women's individual pursuit on Tueday, and followed up with another gold in the women's team pursuit on Wednesday.

Hepburn smashed his previous world record, set at the Australian championships in February, to claim the rainbow jersey in the men's individual pursuit.

He set a new world record in the qualifying round of 3:15.743, bettering his previous mark which was set in the qualifying round at the Australian Championships in Adelaide in February.

"Coming into the Championships I was fairly confident, and training had been going close to perfect so I knew I had better form than in February," said Hepburn.

His qualifying time was more than a second faster than that of the second quickest qualifier, Russian Konstantin Kuperasov (3:17.172). Hepburn trimmed 0.157 seconds from his previous time to take the gold in the final with a 3:15.586, catching his Russian rival in the process.

"It was a bit of a surprise to go quicker in the final," said Hepburn. "Over the first kilometre it was pretty close and then I slowly started to build on it.

"Once I could see his back wheel in the same straight Tim (Coach Tim Dekker) just screamed at me to 'go get him' and I brought it home to catch him in the last lap," explained Hepburn. "I left everything I had on the track and just knowing as soon as I crossed the line that I had the rainbow jersey in my arms was pretty special and quite emotional."

Following up on her gold medal in the individual pursuit, West Australia's Michaela Anderson and teammates Megan Dunn and Melissa Hoskins bested their Russian competitors by four seconds to win the women's team pursuit.

Their time lowered the world best time mark of 3:32 ridden at the European Championships earlier this year. There is currently no World Record for the event, which was introduced last year, but Australian team management have submitted the time to be listed as the first official World Record for the 3km women's team pursuit.

The medal was the third gold for Australia in the competition, along with Amy Cure's silver in the women's individual pursuit.

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