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The current time in Athens is 20:09 on September 23, 2023

28th Olympic Games - JO

Athens, Greece, August 14-28, 2004

News for Thursday, August 12, 2004

Australian track team keeping options open

By Chris Henry

No small amount of attention has centred on the Australian track cycling program in the lead up to the Athens Olympics, with the doping scandal surrounding former junior world champion Mark French widening to become one of the key issues in the team selection for this year's Olympics. Track coach Martin Barras has unofficially named Sean Eadie, Ryan Bayley and Shane Kelly as the three members for the team sprint, leaving Ben Kersten as a substitute and apparently unlikely to compete in any events.

Australia qualified for 14 track riders total, including three women and 11 men. In the men's team, seven riders will come from the endurance team and four from the sprint team. Kersten was named as a replacement for sprinter Jobie Dajka, excluded from the Olympic squad after providing dishonest testimony in the doping inquiry headed by Robert Anderson.

While Kersten's status in the team looks less than promising, Cycling Australia's head coach Shayne Bannan insists that the team is keeping its options open before the track events begin in Athens.

"If Ben Kersten is performing well in training, then his selection into the team will be considered, as it is with everybody else," Bannan told Cyclingnews. "Any member of the Australian national team, putting his best foot forward, will get opportunities."

As for the final selection and team designation, Bannan said, "We have an idea, as we should, but certainly things can change. The coaches involved are professional people. We go to the Olympic Games and put on the track or the road who we feel are the best people for the results."

Barras' philosophy has been to give his team members time to prepare before the events without worrying that final selection could change at the last minute. For now, he is sticking with this plan, leaving Kersten on the fringe. "As it stands, we've had our trials and the starting line up is [if we had to pick it now] Sean Eadie, Ryan Bayley and Shane Kelly," Barras said recently. "And we told [Kersten] so when he arrived."

One point of concern is the necessity for Shane Kelly to ride the kilometre time trial and face three rounds of the team sprint the next day. Here again Bannan notes that the situation could remain fluid, even if the original schedule holds.

"It really depends on Kelly and the others in that particular group," Bannan said. "How they're training, how the tapering is going, how the competition is going, and so on. There's a number of issues involved. It really depends on what happens in the next week."