|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
World Track Championships - CM
Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004
Tales from the track
News and gossip from day 2 of the Melbourne World Track Championships
By Karen Forman in Melbourne
Australia misses out on hoped-for second kilo berth
Australia's hopes to forge a second berth for the men's kilo at the Athens Olympics - and Ben Kersten's Olympic dream - were shattered in Melbourne tonight when neither Kersten nor Shane Kelly finished in the top four of the world championship event.
While Kelly had grabbed one spot for Australia with his teams sprint sixth place on Wednesday, either he or Kersten had to finish top four in the kilo tonight to ensure a second berth.
For Sydney rider Kersten, the second berth was crucial to his dream to ride for Australia at the Athens Olympic Games. After missing selection for Sydney 2000 and then retiring in despair, he was lured back to the sport by head coach Martin Barras and has spent the past three years at least training with one single goal in mind - qualifying to ride the kilo in Athens.
But despite making it through the Australian national championships to the World Cup team in Sydney a fortnight ago and then into the World Championship team this week, his whole dream was torn apart in a one-minute, 1000 metre ride that was so devastating Barras hopes won't result in Kersten changing his mind about his future.
Indeed, Kersten left the velodrome tonight appearing very upset. He told Cyclingnews that the ride - which saw him finish fifth with 1.02.299 (and Kelly sixth with 1.02.314) behind winner Chris Hoy of Great Britain's 1.01.599 was "shithouse."
"I never got into it, I was fighting all the way. With one lap to go I blew up. I had noting left to carry on, no second kick. I heard Shane Kelly say he felt the same. We had the same schedule and we rode the same race. I was on a really big gear, over 100, 101 and if you don't have it you can't get going on that.
"When it's over, it's over."
Barras originally said he hoped a second berth might still be dredged up from World Cup results, but that on further investigation had found that wasn't possible.
"The news is not good," he said. "I have just told Ben that he hasn't made the Olympics. The berth will go to Shane Kelly under an agreement that Olympic spots would be given to cyclists who medalled at last year's world championships when the positions were qualified in Melbourne.
"Because the world championships are so close to the Olympic Games, we deemed that it was desirable to have as many athletes as possible having as much time as possible to prepare for the Olympic Games, ideally up to a year knowing in advance," he said.
"We couldn't give them a guarantee that we're going to give pre-selections because we had to qualify the spots first so what we gave was preferential choices to athletes who have the best Australians with a medal around their neck from an event contested at the Olympics at the world championships last year. So Jobie Dajka, Shane Kelly, Luke Roberts and Katie Mactier filled those positions and as soon as those spots have been qualified here they've been offered to them, so therefore it came back to Shane Kelly."
Barras said there was "nothing pleasant about" having to tell Kersten the bad news. "Ben had quit (cycling) after not being selected for 2000 and I went to try to get him back. The kid has the perfect makeup of a kilo rider and there is no doubt in my mind that he is perfect for the kilo. He could definitely come back next Olympics if he wanted to."
Kelly said he was also disappointed with his performance. "I was capable of a medal," he said. "I knew I had to go under 1.01.5 to be competitive, but I need more training, I was lacking in my final lap.
"It's a bit disappointing not to be on the podium especially in an Olympic year in my home town of Melbourne. It definitely that would have been great for two of us to be there and race and I think we're very capable of being there and being in the medals. It is disappointing but the times were quick. 1.01.5, that's not too bad. You've really got to be doing those times to be competitive and us guys, we weren't quit there.
"I think last night's team sprint, if I read the selection correctly, last night's team sprint qualification pretty well qualified me."
Kilo bronze medalist Theo Bos, who is just 20, said he was really happy with what was his first "elite" podium (also a personal best). "I knew my form was good because of the team sprint yesterday and I hoped I would get a medal but I didn't expect it.
"I was a little bit nervous before it, but it is good to be nervous. Then I was really feeling good and I built it up with every lap. The last lap was my best ever."
More Day 2 News from the Melbourne World Track Championships
By Karen Forman in Melbourne