Big calls loom for AusCycling post-Tokyo

·3-min read

A report into the snapped handlebar debacle at the Tokyo Olympics is days away, the first of several critical milestones for Australian cycling's new governing body.

AusCycling chief executive Marne Fechner says they're expecting the findings by the end of the month after an investigation into what caused Alex Porter's handlebar to snap off during men's team pursuit qualifying at the Games.

Porter was lucky to avoid serious injury when he face-planted into the velodrome track at high speed.

His teammates went on to win bronze, but the snapped handlebar symbolised another under-achieving Olympics on the track.

That was Australia's only medal in track cycling, its lowest return in the discipline at the Olympics since Moscow in 1980.

AusCycling high performance boss Simon Jones announced his resignation immediately before Tokyo and interviews are underway for his successor, with an announcement expected by the end of the year.

The equipment investigation is also part of a wider post-Tokyo review, with cycling only managing a gold, a silver and a bronze at the Olympics.

There are always high hopes of Australian cycling medals at the Olympics, but Athens is the only Games since Moscow when multiple golds have been won.

AusCycling is also taking a much broader look at its culture and high-performance system - Fechner calls it a review of their "eco-system" - with an eye to the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane.

A year after all of cycling's disciplines finally united to form AusCycling, but only after a bitter leadup, the sport is working out what comes next.

The heat is on, with Olympic gold medallist Dean Woods a particularly vocal critic of the sport's high-performance regime after another barren Olympics.

AusCycling will hold its first AGM on November 29 and a replacement must be found for chair Duncan Murray, who is standing down.

Suffice to say Fechner has been busy since switching from netball to become AusCycling CEO in February.

"I'm still drinking from the fire hydrant ... you learn every day," she told AAP.

"The intensity of what we're doing is extreme. We're flying the plane and keeping the sport going and we're trying to build a new plane.

"I have lots of analogies - some people ask 'how are you going?' and I say 'I have a really long snorkel', living under water most days."

Fechner is adamant the various reviews are not a blame game, but a determination to be better.

"Culturally, as a sport, how do we actually be better at coming together to achieve the outcomes we collectively want?

"How do we constantly improve?

"We know that cycling matters to Australians."

Murray has been vocal that success must mean more than medals, with athlete welfare now front and centre in their thinking.

"Be the world's best, but maybe do that in a slightly different way, that is kinder on the human," Fechner said.

It's the broader review into the whole high-performance system that interests Fechner the most.

"Where are we really at? The Tokyo campaign will be the top tip ... but I see high performance as an eco system that starts with clubs," she said.

"If we're thinking about what might success look like in 2032 - every country wants to perform really well at a home Games - we're looking at the 13 and 14-year-olds now.

"If we know where we are now, we know where we want to get to, how the hell are we going to get there?"

One thing is for certain there is no shortage of punters willing to give Fechner advice and wonder aloud on social media what someone from netball is doing in charge of their sport.

"There is this huge degree of passion associated with cycling, in all of its guises," she said.

"That's a great place to start from. People care.

"Once we create that vision for success, how do we come together and everyone plays their part?"

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