Three ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast riders have been selected for the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast.
Track specialists Leigh Howard, Sam Welsford and Kelland O’Brien, will all compete at the upcoming Games as part of the Australian track cycling team.
All three are current or former World Champions on the track, but it is the first Commonwealth Games selection for the trio.
“To have three riders selected and with the Games so close to the team’s University of the Sunshine Coast base, this is really exciting news for us, especially in our first year,” said Howard.
“Having such a big competition in your home country is a huge advantage but having the team base just up the road gives us an extra advantage.”
“This is the first time for me representing Australia at Commonwealth Games, and it’s a great opportunity to show my best form and hopefully come away with a gold medal. My number one focus at the Games is trying to get a ride in the Team Pursuit.”
Welsford is favoured to medal in the individual pursuit, after becoming National Champion in the event last month, beating current World Champion Jordan Kirby on the Brisbane track in the final.
“It’s pretty unreal being selected for Commonwealth Games in your home country, it’s going to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I think we’ll be posting some fast times here on the Brissie track,” said Welsford.
“After my Individual Pursuit at Nationals, I’m hoping to get a start in that event and anything after that is a bonus. We’ve got some red-hot favourites in all events though so whichever team we put forward should be right up there.”
“I was too young for the last Games in Glasgow, but I raced the Rio Olympics, so it’s going to be a different feeling going from Olympics to Commonwealth Games. It’s a big stepping stone towards the Tokyo Olympics - it’s going to be pretty special.”
At just 19 years of age, O’Brien is one of the younger members of the Australian cycling contingent and is aiming for a Team Pursuit berth.
“2017 was a real breakthrough year for me. I moved up into the elite ranks and went to the senior World Champs, and then coming home World Champion (in the Team Pursuit) was unbelievable,” said O’Brien.
“It has always been my dream to represent my country at this level, so when we get there I’m expecting a few chills down my spine, but for now it’s just head down so we get there in the right shape to show the world what we can do. “
“A home Games is something special, and I’m really blown away by the opportunity to get there, but especially being so close to the ACA and USC, it’s going to be a big advantage for us to have a home crowd and hopefully we’ll have a few of our teammates down from the Sunshine Coast to cheer us on.”
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson congratulatedthe ridersfrom the Australian Cycling Academy and the Ride Sunshine Coast team on their selection.
“The selection of these young talented riders to Australia’s Games squadis testament to the growing success of the Australian Cycling Academy and furtherboosts the Sunshine Coast’s reputation for high performance sports training,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“We’ll be cheering them on during the Games, along with an ever growing contingent of athletes with strong connections to our region who will be competing in what I’m sure will be a great event.
“We’re also looking forward to welcomingthe 500 visiting international athletes and officials who will trainhereonourSunshine Coast in preparation for the Games.”
You can follow the team’s results on Twitter and Instagram at @aca_cycling and on facebook @australiancyclingacademy.