A year after Michael Hepburn broke the U19 men's individual pursuit world record for the first time, South Australian talent Dale Parker has lowered the mark further with a time of 3:13.958.
The 17-year-old from Mt Barker was a surprise inclusion in the Australian team for last November's Melbourne Track World Cup - surprising not because of a lack of talent, but because of his prowess at such a tender age.
Yesterday Parker again proved that his ability belies his years with his world record ride, the result of plenty of hard work and more than a few testing days on the bike.
"Timmy [Decker, the South Australian Sports Institute head cycling coach] was great with me and I've had some days out on the road and on the ergo [trainer] where there have been some tears shed in training, and it's just all come together on the day," Parker told Cyclingnews.
"Last night [Monday evening] I had a track session and I just felt on top of the world; I knew I still had to bring it out on the day and do it. I've been posting some good times in training and at the same time I'd had some bad days in training where I had to make sure the mental toughness was there and keep telling myself that everyone has some bad days," he continued.
"I woke up this morning mentally tougher than I've ever been and there was no way I was letting anyone beat me today. There were some really great riders out there but I've done too much work to let that one get away."
Whilst the junior world record in this discipline has been held by Australians in the past, most recently by 18-year-old Hepburn, Parker's ride wiped more than 1.5 seconds off the previous best of 3:15.586 recorded by the Queenslander at last year's Junior Track World Championships in Moscow. Parker finished sixth in that event at those championships.
"We [Parker and Decker] sat down after junior worlds when I finished sixth in the individual pursuit and I saw Heppy [Hepburn] - I've always looked up to him and guys like Jack," explained Parker. "I remember Heppy saying to me, 'You'll be doing the same as me next year, mate'. I hoped that I would have been, and from that day forward I did all the 'one percenters' and knew I was going to give this [the world record] a crack."
Of his world record-breaking ride, Parker explained: "There was a fair bit of hype with people saying I was going to break the world record; it was the same as last year, I had a bit of pressure after posting 3:17 as a first year [U19 rider] but I had in my mind that I wanted to go out today and just beat my PB [personal best], which was a 3:17.
"Timmy put me on a 3:16 schedule in the heat and once I got going... I went out too hard but I just kept going, I couldn't stop myself. The hype and everything... I just wanted it so bad.
"I got into a kilometre to go and I didn't know what was going on - I was seeing black blurs - so with a k to go it was all mental. I knew my legs weren't going to lift me, it was all from the heart. All the people out there who have helped me come as far as I have - I was thinking of those guys in the last k."
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