Gruelling challenge opens door to new cycling program

Will, Brett Aitken Dsc 1132  TBW Newsgroup
GOLDEN GUIDANCE: Former Australian Olympic Gold Medallist Brett Aitken (right) mentors St Martins Lutheran College student Will during the Limestone Coast Regional Sporting Academy and South Australian Sports Institute cycling program test on Monday. Picture: THOMAS MILES

Will, Brett Aitken Dsc 1132 TBW Newsgroup
GOLDEN GUIDANCE: Former Australian Olympic Gold Medallist Brett Aitken (right) mentors St Martins Lutheran College student Will during the Limestone Coast Regional Sporting Academy and South Australian Sports Institute cycling program test on Monday. Picture: THOMAS MILES

SCHOOL students from around Mount Gambier produced outstanding results at a vigorous cycling test under the watchful eye of Australian Olympic gold medallist Brett Aitken earlier this week.

The program was conducted by the Limestone Coast Regional Sporting Academy and South Australian Sports Institute cycling program on Monday and Tuesday at Mount Gambier High School, Grant High School and St Martins Lutheran College.

It was aimed at Year 8 and 9 students, but anyone who was interested was allowed to have a go with the silver lining a possible position in the LCRSA’s new cycling program.

More than double the amount of students jumped on the bike compared to last year’s test and LCRSA coordinator Tony Elletson was proud of their efforts.

“Across the whole board the results were really pleasing,” he said.

“Brett and Mark (Chadwick) said a couple were off the charts and some of the students were above what some of the SASI athletes are producing now.

“So a couple of athletes have a bright future if they choose to do the program.”

The SASI-ran program required students to complete three separate tests.

The first was a sprint test, which determines the amount of power a cyclist can generate from two six-second sprints.

The other riding drill is a two-minute endurance test, which pushed the students to maintain a certain amount of cadence to gain an understanding on how much power they can generate and how long they can maintain it for.

These figures will be married up with each rider’s height, weight and age and the final score gives experts an accurate idea if the student has the skills to pursue cycling.

Hopeful students will now have a nervous wait as Elletson said the LCRSA and SASI will analyse the results for the next few weeks before offering positions.

“We will have a look at the results and will offer a position in the program to those who we think have some ability and talent,” he said.

“Mark, Brett and myself will catch up with them via Zoom and an announcement will probably happen in the next couple of weeks at the latest.

“There are around 12 to 13 new spots we could fill.”

For youngsters who are offered a position, Elletson believed it was a golden opportunity for those dreaming of becoming a high-level athlete.

“These athletes will become part of the cycling academy and they will do some on-track cycling sessions at Mount Gambier,” he said.

“We will also take them down to Adelaide’s Superdrome where they get to train with the SASI squad on the velodrome where the Australian team rides.

“They will also get a gym program and education sessions around sports psychology and nutrition delivered by people in the elite sporting field.”

Despite all the high-level equipment and expertise on show, the highlight for the students was the chance to meet an Australian Olympic legend.

Although he left his Sydney 2000 Olympic Games gold medal at home, Aitken’s presence and knowledge certainly left a lasting impact on the students.

Elletson said the LCRSA was extremely grateful for someone of Aitken’s calibre to support the program.

“It is amazing to think someone of Brett’s level is so invested in this region and program,” he said.

“It was a great opportunity for the kids to be able to meet someone who has gone to that level and I cannot say how much it is appreciated from our end.

“He is extremely committed to support the sport, program and even the club to make sure Mount Gambier can become a large cycling hub in the state which is really exciting.”