It had been a little over 2 years since I last raced the Australian Track Championships before racing them last week. So you could imagine my excitement about being able to race them & take a shot at adding to my Australian Championship titles. It was a great opportunity to work on the skills and try some different tactics in the build up to the World Championships only 4 weeks away, although with the World Championships being so close it did mean in my case that I would be mostly training up to and through the National Championships as to keep the progression towards the world titles and not peak too early.
The risk with this came to a head for me during the week of the National titles with my body finally feeling the effects of the great training I had done in previous weeks. I had felt I would be OK to start the titles and kicked it off with the Team Sprint where we finished 3rd. I had wanted to start the team sprint as to not let down my younger team mates whom have just entered the national squad and train in Adelaide with me. The following day saw Qualifying and 1st rounds of the sprint competition after changing my warm ups due to my back pain I was happy to qualify in 2nd riding a 10.018, which is a PB for me on the Adelaide Superdrome. After going through the 1st round that night I headed home to prepare for my 1/4 finals on the Friday afternoon.
When I woke Friday I found it very difficult to climb out of bed with shooting pain in my back, I thought I’d give it 15-20min to warm up and get moving and continued my normal routine preparing for the racing with again slightly changing my warm up top save my back. During the 1/4 finals 1st race I had felt a little funny on my bike something I’d never felt before and also a lot of pain in my back. I had to change my tactics a lot to help my back and could not apply power through the pedals on call like I would normally. I pushed through and made it through the 2 1/4 finals rides to move into the semi finals that were on about 4hrs later.
I knew something was wrong so I had to see a physio and get it looked at. The work I needed to get done would end up taking 2hrs or so meaning I would be out of the semi finals that night, but with the World Championships so close we could not risk doing any further damage and it was more important to find the problem and get it fixed. Luckily my discs in my back were safe, which was great news for me obviously feeling pretty let down that I couldn’t race Friday night.
My focus now was can we get my back and hips to a standard that I can race Saturday night in the Keirin event. Thankfully my physio Stan Garland whom I’ve seen for many years knew my body very well and managed to get my back/hips to release and free up my movement with a lot less pain. I saw him again twice on Saturday morning and pre the Keirin event Saturday night to give myself every opportunity to win on the night & not do anymore damage to my body in the process. We also had to make a change to my bike position to free up the clearance of my hips helping my back.
Things started very well winning my Qualifying round to go straight into the finals draw. Many of the times in the heats were super fast and some of the fastest we have ever seen in Australian championship history. So I knew it was going to a very very quick final with so much talent and riders on super form, as there is still spots up for grabs for Commonwealth Games qualification this year. I took 2nd position in the line up behind the bike off the start and with 2 laps to go I started to make my move as the pace was very high from the front and a couple of riders were fighting for the front making the pace even higher so I knew I had to make the move early from mid pack.
Because of the jostling at the front it meant I had to come 3 wide for about 300m until I hit the back straight with 1/2 a lap to go and hit the front solo. From there I just kept my head down and power on as much as I could all the way to the finish as I knew I had a rider on my tail that had followed me around from 2 laps previous. I held on to win by half a wheel in the end after the long haul around the outside.
Winning any race brings a good feeling anyone would agree with that, when adversity hits you though it brings out the real person. It would have been easy to say Friday night I am pulling out of the national titles completely, but that just isn’t me. I wanted to fight all the way to the finish & and my thinking was that even if I wasn’t 100% in my body I can still push it so that the other riders had to beat me to win. The Keirin Saturday night for me was one I will not forget not just to win the title but the set backs that were faced in the lead up to it. I’ve always known that the heart and mind can do great things but it’s times like this that it reminds you what they can really do when your back is up against it.
Thank you for all your support! I am so happy I have you great sponsors and supporters around me. GO TEAM PERKO!
“Follow Your Dreams”
Commonwealth Games Champion