Congratulations to the athletes who represented NZ at the recent cycling World Track Champs in Poland – the best ever medal haul at a world track champs!
- Gold – Alison Shanks … Women’s Individual Pursuit
- Silver – Alison Shanks, Lauren Ellis and Jamie Nielsen … Women’s Team Pursuit
- Bronze – Westley Gough, Peter Latham, Marc Ryan and Jesse Sergent … Men’s Team Pursuit
We asked our journalist who follows the Rabobank ProTeam to catch up with Alison for a quick chat … here is what she had to say about the event and her achievements in Poland.
The Track Cycling World Championships took place in the Polish city of Pruszków last week and there Kiwi Alison Shanks surprised everyone by winning the world title in the individual pursuit. In the finale the 26-year-old rider from the BikeNZ team (sponsored by RaboPlus) defeated the British
Wendy Houvenaghel, who had been the fastest in the qualifications. Shanks, however, improved her personal best time to 3.29.807 in the finale and the winner of the silver medal at the Olympics did not have an answer to that.
For the bigger public this is quite an unexpected victory. Alison Shanks from New Zealand winning the gold in a discipline usually dominated by British women.
“Houvenaghel was most definitely the favourite for the world title, especially after the qualifications where she clocked the fastest time. But I knew I had a chance if I could push myself to 3:30. In the end I could do that. But it was a tough race and it was therefore hard for me to believe that I had won the world title.”
You have improved your best time often recently. Where will this end?
“I hope it does not end for some time to come. But I receive good coaching and train very hard to achieve this. Other than that things are going smoothly, I feel good and that obviously makes a lot of difference.”
Besides the world title in the individual pursuit you also won a silver medal in the team pursuit with compatriots Lauren Ellis and Jaime Nielsen. So we can say your world championships were very successful. A dream came through?
“Yes you can say that, an amazing tournament. I did not expect this, but I am obviously very happy that things turned out this way. Our riding is constantly improving and we are clearly on course to put New Zealand on the cycling map. You can also tell by the media attention we are getting. Even here in Europe. It is increasing. Everyone pays close attention now, especially in our own country.”
We learned on your website that one of your dreams (representing New Zealand at the Olympics in Beijing) has already come true. What is your new dream?
“I would say, winning the gold during the next Olympics in London in 2012. To do that I have to keep riding strongly and eventually knock off the British riders. I am on the right track, but it is by no means enough yet. For that I need another two or three years. I made an exceptional start here in Poland. To finish the job in London I will need even more power."