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Australia to adopt Great Britain model in bid to mimic Olympic cycling success

Funding for Aussie athletes is dependent on World Championships performance - cycling chiefs say that focus damages Olympic hopes

Cycling Australia could be set to make wholesale changes to stop the rot in their Olympic cycling performances by mimicking Britain's Olympic prioritisation model that's seen such success in Rio.

Hints dropped by Cycling Australia's high performance coach suggest that individuals within the country's cycling set-up are pushing for a shift in focus towards the Olympic Games.

In Australia funding is granted to specific sports based on the country's Winning Edge model that rewards medal tallies at world championships with financial backing, which contrasts Britain's blanket £30 million over the last four years and allows for the prioritisation of the Olympics.

The Aussie model has lead to the nation prioritising performances in world championships above performances at Olympic Games and is partly to blame for Australia's dismal medal haul in the velodrome at the Rio Olympics.

That's according to Cycling Australia's high performance coach Kevin Tabotta, at least, who told the Sydney Morning Herald that "it may take us to actually take a step back and really take a thrust into an Olympic Games from a couple of years out."

"Now that's going to take some understanding from funders," he said. "And also from athletes because there's an expectation now in Australia to perform every time we line up at a world championship.

"We need to master an August peak and we haven't nailed that yet."

> UK motorsport engineer helps Aussie cyclists on track

For a bit of context, Australia's women's team pursuit squad - who held the world record last year - finished fifth, albeit after experiencing a crash on the eve of the competitions start.

Annette Edmondson, who won dual golds at the world championships in 2015 as well as omnium bronze at the London Games in 2012, finished fourth in the omnium in Rio.

Meanwhile Team GB boss Iain Dyer added to the weight hanging over the Aussie camp by giving a scathing review of the competition the Brits faced in the velodrome. He said: "if you look at some of the times that have been done here, some of the teams simply haven't shown up. That's the bottom line."

The Australians, French and Germans have all come out since events in the velodrome came to an end with questions about the huge number of British successes on track.

Anna Meares, Australia's Olympic team captain who won gold at Olympic Games in Athens and London, was criticised on social media for her open-ended statement that "it's not just the Australian team that have questions" over Britain's success.

> Watch: Olympic champion Anna Meares versus a Porsche Boxster

Meares's question wasn't the only one that arguably carried a touch of accusatory weight. Germany's gold and bronze medal winner in Rio Kristina Vogel said "They [the British] were cannon fodder when you look at the last few years. Now they come along with a (high) level,"

"I don't want to accuse anyone of anything but it is all very questionable."

Questions from the French, however, were somewhat more tactful.

France's sprint coach Laurent Gané said: "The recipe should be asked for from our neighbours because I don't understand. I don't know what they're doing. I'd love to know. These are teams that do nothing extraordinary for four years and once they arrive at the Olympics they out-class the rest of the world."

Australian Meares's questions continued after she disappointedly cooled down from her 10th place finish in the women's individual sprint. She explained that the three national teams had talked amongst themselves about the mystery British performance, but were still "scratching our heads."

"We've talked to the Germans and the French," Meares said.

"The British are just phenomenal when it comes to the Olympic Games, and we're all just scratching our heads going 'how do they lift so much when in so many events they have not even been in contention in the world championships?'.

"It's been tough because you come in here with hope, and you come in here with strong performances at world level for a number of years and then at the Olympic Games it seems like you're just not in competition with that nation. So they've got it together, and to be honest I'm not exactly sure what they've got together."

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DrG82 | 7 years ago
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With the way that they are beating on cyclists in Aus at the moment in a few years they'll be struggling to get a cycling team together.

Sam Alison | 7 years ago

You mean kinda in the same way that GB mimicked the Charlie Walsh/Heiko Australian model, which really was the east German model? 

If you've got the luxury of funding in four year cycles to build for that one massive peak and that only, then that's fine. Personally I feel that approach diminishes the sport as a whole because it diminishes all the other events on the calendar when they all become considered just 'preparation' for the ultimate goal. How are we supposed to build interest in a sport in which we only see the best at their peak every four years? Just let the Worlds fall by the wayside? And as for the (already sparse) world cups - just let them die completely? 

jova54 | 7 years ago

I understand Shane Sutton might have a bit of space in his diary angel

notfastenough replied to jova54 | 7 years ago
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jova54 wrote:

I understand Shane Sutton might have a bit of space in his diary angel


to be fair, that's potentially a really obvious way of answering the question!

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