Report from Australia's National Daily

The headline in the Australian (14/2/96) read "Olympic Trailblazers face being left behind"

The article by Australian journalist, Rupert Guinness began by saying that "In many people's eyes Australian cycling is indebted to Brett Dennis and Damian McDonald. It was their results in last year's world titles in Colombia which earned Australia a full quota of Olympic berths for the road events at Atlantla in July."

Guinness continues that "the two Australian Institute of Sport riders still face the cruel prospect of missing the one reward that has driven them to pedal their herats and legs out for the last four years - Olympic selection. Dennis and McDonald would have been clear-cut choices for the Australian road team in any normal Olympic year. For cycling, the 1996 Games will be far from normal due to an historic allowance for professionals to compete. That has seen five European-based Australian professionals vying for selection."

Dennis and McDonald were both in the 1994 Commonwealth Games road teams and were part of the gold-medal winning teams time trial squad (which also included Phil Anderson). They both express similar emotions at the prospect of missing the Olympics.

Dennis said that "It would be a huge disappointment. We were the ones who qualified Australia for the Olympics." Dennis who is now 24, came 11th in the world ITT last year which was won by Miguel Indurain. He was 4m 36 s behind Indurain. However, the results ensured that Australia gained two places in the OG ITT.

Guinness writes that "McDonald is a former track cyclist whose 42nd place in the 177 km amateur world itle road race last year was the best result of any of the Australian squad. He is blunt about missing the Olympics."

McDonald says "It would kill me. I have always thought that the Olympics was the major thing for the amateurs. The pros used to have races like the Tour de France and all the big one-day classics, but now they have the Olympics too."

Guinness writes "Nevertheless, the duo aren't feeling outgunned by the top Australian professionals." In relation to ACT's Stephen Hodge and Neil Stephens, WA's Henk Vogels, SA's Patrick Jonker and Queensland's Robbie McEwan, all riding in top European teams this season, Dennis said "I'm not trying to think of them as pros or as riders on another step above us. They are just other bike riders."

McDonald adds that "Of course it's going to be hard. The pros are bloody good bike riders, but then I have raced with and against them and even been in the same amateur team with them a lot." McDonald already has been there before. He missed Olympic selection in 1992 for Barcelona. Guiness says that "His memory still burns from the 1992 Games in Barcelona. He made the ultimate (reserve) for the four-man team pursuit event, where Australia won the silver medal." It was this experience that pushed McDonald into road cycling.

McDonald says "I don't want to forget it. But again, that memory will help me because I simply don't want it to happen again. It will only motivate me"