Riding on the wheels of glory
OVER the sound of her wheels coursing to victory on the slick, polished timber boards, Kerry Westwood said she could hear two things clearly.
"I could hear the girls gaining on me through that last corner and up the straight, and then I could hear my mum yelling from the stands," Westwood said.
"I put my head down and gave it everything I had and all I could hear was mum."
For the newly crowned Australian Masters women's keirin champion (50-54 years), it was the moment she'd strove for after months of intense training riding laps.
"I found track cycling after years of road cycling and mountain biking. I'm an endurance athlete, I'm not a sprinter by nature so I knew I had to go out hard, drop the sprinters off my wheels, generate speed and hold them off over the last couple of laps," she said.
Leading from start to finish it was a well-devised plan that paid off. She won by half a bike length.
"That's why I've fallen in love with the sport, it's the strategy of racing, using my smarts to win a race, and it was the first time my parents (Dee and Colin Westwood) have seen me win at the velodrome. So very emotional."
Westwood credited the success to her coach Craig Cameron, of the Coffs Harbour Cycling Club.
"Craig does this for the love of it, to make riders the best they can be. He's the type of coach who only gives you a high five if you've absolutely deserve it and he did that, with a tear in his eye. He's a man of few words, and his reaction moved me.
Westwood and her teammate Laurelea Moss, of Grafton, who was named a Masters Women's Champion of Champions, dominated with a host of medal honours in the 50-54 years division.
Westwood won six medals in total, gold in the keirin, silver in the scratch race, silver in the team pursuit and bronze in the team sprint with Moss, the points race and the individual time trial.
The pair are now setting their sights on the World Masters titles to be held in Manchester in October.
"Both Laurelea and I had a month between the state titles and the nationals with lots of hard work and training in the final month," Westwood said.
"It really paid off. At the Nationals last year I came away with one silver by comparison."
Achieving national glory from a regional centre like Coffs is an exceptional result, considering their competitors train regularly at top-flight facilities like the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane, where the National Masters were held.
"Coming from regional locations it's always more challenging, but we have a strong track training program here in Coffs," Westwood said.
"From there we adapt to the velodrome, racing on the world-class indoor boards which carry 45-degree banks compared to the six degrees on the concrete velodrome at Toormina.
"But we have the support of the Coffs Harbour Cycling Club and Craig Cameron, who's an incredible coach.
"From small beginnings in a place like Coffs, any promising cyclist can make it to at the an end of the day to compete for a national title."