Olympics: Shanks hoping it will be third time lucky in Rio

By Dylan Cleaver

Alison Shanks is hoping the individual pursuit will be reinstated on the Olympic programme.
Alison Shanks is hoping the individual pursuit will be reinstated on the Olympic programme.

Alison Shanks has narrowly avoided the podium at two Olympic Games. She doesn't intend missing out a third time.

The former Otago netball and basketball representative was part of the women's team pursuit that finished fifth in London. Despite setting a national record 3m 19.351 in their final ride, they narrowly missed a chance of riding for the medals.

"While it's disappointing not to win a medal, we put in a good performance," said Shanks. "The other teams just went faster. We were happy with the personal best and controlled everything we could control."

Shanks is the best individual pursuiter in the world, a fact she confirmed by winning the world champs in Melbourne in April.

In a cruel example of bad timing, Shanks' ascension coincided with the decision to remove the individual pursuit off the Olympic programme.

The merits of that decision have been debated and will be in the years leading up to Rio de Janeiro as well. There is a sense among the cycling community that despite Briton Laura Trott's emotional win in the women's omnium, the six-discipline event is an ordinary watch, with lots of mediocre cycling among the occasional good bits.

"I haven't heard anything along those lines in terms of Rio, but I've got my fingers crossed," Shanks said.

She will still compete in the IP at world championships because it complements the work she does in the team pursuit.

Shanks, Lauren Ellis and Jaime Nielsen have a lot of catching up to do if they are to catch Great Britain.

Shanks estimated that in terms of development, they, along with most of the cycling world, are one Olympic cycle behind.

"It's very impressive what they've done in terms of times and the gains they have made in a relatively short amount of time. The bar has been set very high."

For now, Shanks is spending some time catching up with family in London, her parents travelled to the Games, and spending some quality time with her fiance Craig Palmer.

He is the head of sports science with BikeNZ, a relationship they keep strictly professional at major meets.

They are looking forward to returning to their own home in Dunedin after spending a large chunk of the past year on the road, before the world cup season starts again in October.

Shanks will take time to reacquaint herself with friends, possibly spend a little time in Central Otago and a lot of time planning her and Craig's wedding in January.

What she doesn't plan on doing a lot of in the next few weeks is talking about cycling.

Until it's time to get her game face on again - there's a medal to be won in four years.

- NZ Herald

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