Australia reveals track team for Tokyo Olympics

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The Australian Cycling Team has officially unveiled the 15-rider squad that it intends to send to the Tokyo Olympics.

Leigh Howard, Kelland O’Brien, Lucas Plapp, Alex Porter and Sam Welsford will ride the men’s endurance events, while Ashlee Ankudinkoff, Georgia Baker, Amy Cure, Maeve Plouffe and Annette Emondson will make up the women’s endurance team.

The men’s sprint line-up will feature Matthew Glaetzer, Nathan Hart and Matthew Richardson, while the women’s sprint team is Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton.

Of the 15 riders on the team, six are making their Olympic debut, seven will be travelling to the second Games, and two — Annette Edmondson and Matthew Glaetzer — are heading to their third Olympics.

“Australian track cyclists have a phenomenal Olympic legacy and I want to congratulate the 15 athletes selected today to continue that tradition,” said Australia’s Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Ian Chesterman. “This is the result of more than a decade of unrelenting hard work by our athletes and it is worth celebrating. This is an achievement for the athletes, the whole Cycling Australia team, coaches, family, friends and supporters.

“The resilience these athletes have already shown is inspiring – Matt Glaetzer’s named to his second Games despite the challenge of thyroid cancer; Kaarle McCulloch overcoming the disappointment of missing Rio 2016 to become world champion in 2019 and make her Olympic return. Each athlete selected today has a story of perseverance and we’re proud to select them to the Australian Olympic Team.”

Among the debutants is 19-year-old Lucas Plapp who will be part of the team pursuit squad after an impressive rise in the past 12 months.

“I had a little tear in my eye when I found out I made the Tokyo team,” Plapp said. “It was a pretty special moment and I was just speechless. After the Brisbane World Cup [in December 2019] I really started to believe I could make this team.

“I’ve learned so much from [teammate] Sam Welsford from his experiences four years ago and the rest of the team create such a good environment to learn and train in. It helped me realise it’s where I want to be and helped me take my own performance to a new level.”

The Australian team struggled at the recent Track World Championships in Berlin, Germany, bringing home just one silver medal and two bronze, to finish 11th on the medal tally. Assuming the Olympics goes ahead as planned, the Australian team will take to Tokyo’s Izu velodrome between August 3-9 to compete in a total of 12 events, including the Madison which returns to the Olympics for the first time since Beijing in 2008, and which will include a women’s race for the first time in Olympic history.

Australia will announce its Olympic road teams on May 3, followed by its BMX Freestyle line-up on May 27, and BMX Racing and MTB teams on June 17.

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