Australia reaping rewards for hard work

Mon, 28 Mar 16:41:00 2011

Australia are reaping the rewards from improved funding and identifying young talent after dominating the World Track Championships, National Performance Director for cycling Kevin Tabotta said.

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Australia won eight golds, two silvers and a bronze in Apeldoorn to send out a message that they are ready to atone next year in London for a desperately poor 2008 Beijing Olympics which yielded just one silver medal.

"After Beijing 2008 we had a fairly major restructuring and replanning in terms of athletes and staff, as well as reforming the whole of our strategic goals," Tabotta said.

"You combine these two things, then manage the talent with some great coaches, and it all comes together."

Tabotta said that after the 2004 Games in Athens, where Australia won six golds, there had been a loss of focus.

"It's always difficult after a major competition like 2004 to find the way and motivation and energy to repeat your success four years later," he said.

"But now, funding-wise, we're in a much better position now than we were in 2005 or 2006. And that gives us a better chance to get more coaches, more administrators and more opportunities for everybody.

"It's not about one person, it's about putting resources across the board, so everybody is a little bit fresher, thinking a little bit clearer. After that, it's up to the athletes."

Tabotta said that part of Australia's reinvigorated track program involved back to grassroots techniques of seeking potential in young age groups.

"To be totally honest, before any of this could happen, we've gone back into reviving our state institute [schools] talent system, looking at the 15, 16, 17 year-old age group, which is effectively where our selection process begins," he said.

"It's a policy that's been criticised by some nations, but we've put a lot of emphasis, say, into the junior World Track Championships.

"It's a natural pathway, not only for track but also for road. Nearly 70 per cent of our 30 or so World Tour (former ProTour, cycling's top road league) riders have their roots in the track. (Under-23 World Road Champion) Michael Mathews is the latest example."

Australia's success in Apeldoorn contrasted sharply with that of 2012 Olympic hosts Britain, who dominated in Beijing but could only claim one gold, three silvers and five bronzes to finish fourth in the medal table in the Netherlands.

"The aim is for Australia to be the nation to beat in 2012," Tabotta said.

Reuters

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