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On Saturday night the 113th edition of the Austral Wheelrace was held. Whoever said that track is dead was sadly mistaken. This was exactly the boost that Australian track cycling needed to show that it was alive and well. I have no doubts that it reinvigorated people with the sport. I for one will be repurchasing a track bike in the near future and you’ll see me back on the boards this winter.
In my opinion, holding the Austral at DISC instead of Hisense arena was a wise decision. We’d all love track cycling to be a sport that fills massive stadiums, but the fact is that it’s not. DISC was transformed into a jam packed venue that gave us an awesome spectacle of track cycling. Unfortunately many people had to be turned away at the door because of a sold out crowd, but that’s much better problem to have than an empty Hisense arena.
Tasmania’s Luke Ockerby (19 years old) added his name to the Austral Wheelrace honor roll. Rriding off 45m, he took the lead with just two of the eight laps remaining and held off Rick Sanders (70m) and Glenn O’Shea (scratch) in a sprint to the line.
I have to admit, I was a bit biased and found myself cheering for Rick Sanders. I thought it would have been awesome to see become the third one in the family to win the title. However, you can’t deny the unbelievable cyclists that Tasmania is producing. Doesn’t the name “Luke Ockerby” have a nice ring to it? Future legend I reckon.
Aside from the Austral heats and final, there were lots of other exciting events that caped off the evening. In the ‘Legends Austral’ Stephen Pate, Danny Clark, David Sanders and Laurie Venn (who combined claimed a total of ten wheelraces between 1977 and 1999) put on a great show. Pate edged Clark at the line, with Sanders taking out third place with his son Ben gate-crashing the race and giving him a boost.
Shane Perkins averaged 72.572 km/hr to set a DISC standing lap record in 12.401 seconds (reaching a maximum of 80km/hr)! I might add that he was wearing a Richmond Tigers jersey at the time (with the number nine on the back – worn by his grandfather Vale Polly Perkins who played halfback for the Tigers in the 1940s).
Remember these names folks. Australia’s future stars…
As BIG RING RIDING so eloquently put it: “MASSIVE PROPS TO AZIZULHASNI AWANG – FIRSTLY FOR PUTTING HIS 65KG SELF UP AGAINST RHINOS LIKE HOY IN THE KEIRIN. THEN FOR RIDING ACROSS THE LINE AFTER A CRASH WITH GOD’S TOOTHPICK STUCK THROUGH HIS LEG. BEST WISHES FOR THE RECOVERY.”
I bumped into Awang at the Austral tonight and he’s strutting around like nothing happened. Give him another week and he’ll be kicking ass on the boards again. Allez Azizul!