Australian 2012 London Olympic medallist Shane Perkins will ride under a Russian license in his bid for Tokyo 2020 success. The track cyclist missed out on a place at the Rio Olympic Games with Cycling Australia deciding on a younger group of sprinters.
Perkins could make his debut for Russia at the 2017 Track World Championships in April.
Since missing out on the Olympic Games, the 30-year-old has been racing the Japanese keirin series with his Dreamseeker trade team. Perkins will compete in this weekend's Cali Track World Cup for the Dreamseeker team and expressed his gratitude for the opportunities presented to him by them.
"I'm extremely grateful for the support that I have received to date by the Japanese Keirin Association (JKA) and my professional trade team 'Dreamseeker'", Perkins said in a statement on his Facebook page. "The support that I have received from the JKA and Dreamseeker has enabled me to continue fulfilling my goals and dreams in the sport, whilst continuing to support my family in Brisbane, Australia."
Along with Olympic bronze in the sprint at the 2012 Games, Perkins is a two-time world champion and Commonwealth Games medallist on the track. At the Rio Olympic Games, Russia did not field a team sprint squad although Denis Dmitriev beat out Australian Matthew Glaetzer for the sprint bronze. Anna Meares was the sole sprinter for Australia to claim a medal at the Rio Games.
The switch to a Russian license is likely to provide Perkins with a greater chance of making the Tokyo Games which hold a special significance as he added in his statement. Currently applying for Russian citizenship, Perkins will not relinquish his Australian citizenship and can hold dual passports. However, Perkins will not defend his national keirin title at next month's national championships in Brisbane.
"The Russian Cycling Federation has given me another opportunity to chase my dreams of Olympic representation in Tokyo 2020 which has special significance to me as my father (Darryl Perkins) raced the Olympics in Tokyo 1964," he said. "I've spoken to Cycling Australia’s High Performance Program and staff and they have been supportive."
A seven-time national champion on the track, Perkins thanked the national body for its support over his career, adding he will remain involved in the sport at his new base in Queensland.
"I'm grateful to Cycling Australia for the support that they have given me throughout my career, and I'll continue to be involved whilst I'm home in Brisbane, particular with the Junior Jets Program and it's upcoming stars of the future."