Australian track sprinter Shane Perkins did not receive the ‘normal reception’ when he returned home from the world championships last night.Family and close friends welcomed the newly crowned keirin world champion as he stepped off the plane at Melbourne Airport.
Perkins defeated Beijing Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy (Great Britain) to claim the first rainbow jersey of his career in the Netherlands last week and was still coming to terms with the achievement yesterday.
“Crossing the finish line, for a second, I was like, ‘Hang on, is this for real?’ And then in the back straight obviously everyone saw the emotion and how happy I was,” Perkins said.
“It was great to share that with my coach Sean Eadie, we’ve finally done it. Now to be home and share it with my friends and family, especially my wife who has sacrificed a lot for me to chase my dreams, it’s great to finally come home and win a world title for her and for the family.”
The result notably comes a little more than a year before the London Olympics and has given the Australian keirin champion confidence as he builds toward the Games.
“In terms of next year it?s definitely given me a lot more belief that I can do it,” Perkins said.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do leading into London but obviously to come away with a world title and know that we’ve still got a few things up our sleeve is fantastic.”
Australia topped the medal tally taking eight gold medals at the world championships with arch-rival Great Britain finishing fourth overall with one gold.
But Perkins dismissed suggestions the tally was indicative of the British cycling team, which won eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, losing its spark in the wake of an Australian resurgence.
“Like every country we’re all building towards London, trying new things in training and testing equipment,” he said.
“Fortunately for the Australians this year what they’ve tried and what they’ve done is working. Australia?s still got a lot of work to do in the lead-up to London.
“I think it’s going to be a great battle between Australia and Great Britain and you definitely can?t underestimate them because of what they did in Beijing.
“They haven’t had a bad year, they’ve won medals, they’ve done fantastic times and all their riders are still in fantastic form. I think come London we’re all going to be stepping up our game.”
Perkins will take a break before assessing plans to travel to Japan for the keirin series. The recent earthquake disaster may interrupt competition.
Source: SBS – http://www.sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral/news/23036/Heroes%27-welcome-for-Perkins