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Australia’s first Indigenous Olympic track cyclist on the cards

Tillara Casey, Staff reporter

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A new program at Midvale Speed Dome is encouraging Indigenous youth to try out for the sport of cycling.

The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID) was started this year by head development coach Amanda O’Connor to create the first Indigenous Olympic track cyclist.

“Ultimately the aim of the program is to have the first Indigenous rider putting on that green and gold jersey for Australia and standing up there on that podium … and representing their country,” she said.

The program is aimed at children who are not interested in the more common team sports.

“Not all kids can kick a ball or throw a ball, so this is a sport for them,” Ms O’Connor said.

The children learn how to ride in a velodrome and are taught bike-handling and road skills. They also participate in workshops that cover topics such as goal setting and nutrition.

The squad currently has eight young boys and girls regularly riding on a Monday night.

Ten-year-old Lemarna Valentine was drawn to the sport of cycling two years ago and loves it.

“I find that it is involving everyone and it makes it a lot more fun when everyone is joining in and having fun like you are,” she said.

Lemarna can get up to 55 km per hour on the velodrome and hopes to be the first Indigenous person to go to the Olympics for track cycling.

Indigenous BMX rider and former Olympian Khalen Young says the program may face challenges because cycling is an individual sport.

“The squad will need trust and honesty as fundamental building blocks in a program like this,” Mr Young said.

“It’s pretty special that there is a program dedicated to Indigenous athletes and to have an athlete in a velodrome program would be pretty cool to be a part of.”

The program is for boys and girls ages 10–14.

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Australia’s first Indigenous Olympic track cyclist on the cards