Posted: January 18, 2013 in Tips & Hints

State Junior Track Championships can be a stressful time of the year for young riders.  With a trip to Adelaide for the Junior Track Nationals on the line, the pressure can become overwhelming.  This post isn’t about dealing with pressure, rather trying to help kids and their parents put things into perspective.

The reality is there are only a handful of kids who can win a National junior medal.  They’re the kids who got the genes allowing them to develop physically at a faster rate than most kids.  There’s a lot more to it than that of course; these kids need to have trained well, have a good temperament and a sound support team that has allowed them to make the most of their physical advantage.

Now I’m not suggesting these kids aren’t worthy winners; they clearly are.  What I’m saying is, to the kids that haven’t experienced early physical development, take heart and try to put things into perspective.  Set realistic goals around PBs and don’t see State Junior Champs or a spot on the plane to Adelaide as the be-all-and-end-all.  Trust me, no one is going to remember who the 2013 under-17 TT champion was but they will remember the kid that persisted, grew in his or her own time and ended up racing in Europe!

Some the current crop of Aussie pros struggled at under-15 and under-17 level.  Neither Leigh Howard or Glen O’Shea broke 2:40.00 for their IP as an under-15 and Glen was still outside the top-10 as an under-17 at Nationals… and look at them now!  Both Olympic medallists and multiple world champions and emerging top line roadies!

The records are littered with similar stories… even Cam Meyer struggled as an under-15 rider and it wasn’t until he was a second-year under-17 that he was physically developed enough to compete.

Every year the Nationals are full of kids making up the numbers.  The difference in results is astounding.  Last year a 2.31 qualified fastest for the JM15 IP, while kids from states, where that age category wasn’t particularly deep, were qualifying in high 2.50s.  So if you’re a junior from one of the bigger states and don’t make the nationals because of the depth in your state, don’t get down, just put it in perspective.  It really doesn’t matter… and besides, it gives you a chance to take a break and start to focus on road season earlier!

By the way, for those kids who are maybe just ‘making up the numbers’; suck it in, enjoy it and learn as much as you can from it… you deserve your state skin suit and just aim at trying to do a PB… Leigh and Glen did and look where it took them!

  1. Pierre says:

    Great article that every junior rider and parent should read going into the weekend.

  2. Ian says:

    Yes, great article – Ive been involved in the sport at Junior level in a different state from Cycling dad and there are riders now kicking big goals at international level who were never the stars at national level while U15’s or U17’s.

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