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World Track Championships - CM

Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004

Event program and results

Tales from the track

News and gossip from day 2 of the Melbourne World Track Championships

By Karen Forman in Melbourne

Mendez wants to take gold for Mexico

At 30 she is one of the more senior female cyclists at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena for the 2004 World Track Championships, but Mexican Belem Guerrero Mendez isn't letting extra years give her extra stress as she prepares for the women's points race on Saturday.

Mendez, who is ranked number one World Cup point score champion and was number one in the world in 1998 and 2000, is extremely hungry for the gold medal in her specialist event.

If she wins, it won't just be a win for herself and her family, but also, she says, for the women of Mexico City, where she lives. An inspiration, if you like, for other girls to follow in her footsteps and give cycling a go for their country.

"Few girls race in Mexico," she said, "it's not very common. There may be more now because of our results at international level but there were not so many when I started."

She first climbed aboard a bicycle at the age of 10. Her father was most supportive, driving her to racing and she says she worked harder than most of her male counterparts. At 14 she started contesting the Pan American games and as a senior won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Perth in 1997 in the points race. The following year she won the silver at Bordeaux in France.

She took the bronze at the Mexico worlds in 2001, was equal fourth in the Sydney Olympic Games with a German rider and was seventh in the Sydney World Cup a fortnight ago.

But so far, gold medals have evaded her. Obviously, she wants to change that, while continuing to try to inspire other women. "I think cycling is a very good sport for girls to do," she said, "It makes you a better person. It looks after you physically."

She says the Australian and the Russians are her major rivals and was concerned that the Russian current world champion Olga Slyusareva (who has held the title since 2001) hadn't yet arrived in Melbourne when she spoke to Cyclingnews. "She has to qualify for the Olympics in Melbourne, so she must be coming."

Mendez said a good points race rider required character, discipline and intelligence and she loved the event because of its challenges. She's also passionate about her sport and says even when she retires, she will stay with cycling, probably as a trainer helping junior riders.

"But first I would like to know that I have competed to the best of my ability," she said. "Then I will have something to teach them. I will do everything possible to get to the Olympics in Athens. Everything it takes."

More Day 2 News from the Melbourne World Track Championships

By Karen Forman in Melbourne

  • Ulmer breaks world record - In the final qualifying heat of the women's 3km individual pursuit, New Zealand's Sara Ulmer has broken the world record with a time of 3.30.604, two-tenths of a second inside the record that was set by Holland's Leontien Zijlaard - Van Moorsel in a semi-final at the Sydney Olympics.
  • Wolff returns to Germany after training accident - German sprinter Rene Wolff will make an unscheduled trip back to Germany this morning to get urgent treatment for a knee injury sustained in a freak accident at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena this morning.
  • Secret women's business challenges Van Moorsel - It's not the kind of thing that people (especially males) talk out loud about - but female athletes of all disciplines certainly know that having - or not having - a menstrual period when it's time for an important event can make or break you.
  • 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.
  • Alzamora wants to repeat Aussie madison gold - Spaniard Miquel Alzamora has travelled a long way to Australia hoping to achieve his lifelong dream of Olympics qualification. But that's not the only reason he came to the World Track Championships in Melbourne this week.