Australian-Lithuanian Rebecca Wiasak rewrote track cycling history last night after securing the Women’s Individual Pursuit title at the UCI Track World Championships in Yvelines (outer Paris).
The 30-year-old became the oldest tournament debutant to win a gold medal for Australia by holding off her American opponent Jennifer Valente with an impressive time of 3:30.305.
Rebecca Wiasak pictured preparing for what would be her Gold medal winning race Aguascalientes, Mexico (December, 2013). Photo courtesy of UCI.

“I noticed she (Valente) had quite a strong start, I was riding to a schedule initially and was a bit up on my time and thought it was probably a tactic she would use to try to unnerve me a bit,” said Wiasak, reflecting on her 20-year-old opponent’s efforts.

“But I just stayed strong and watched my coach Gary Sutton, he knows me very well, we stuck to the race plan and I’m so happy to get the win.”

Earlier in the morning Wiasak climbed to the top of the qualifying board (recording 3:27.018) whilst also cementing the new Australian record by .06 of a second.

“The Australian record has been noted in my phone for a few years now; it’s definitely been a benchmark for me and something I have always wanted to achieve,” said Wiasak.

“I was thrilled to claim this record considering its over ten years old (previously set by Katie Mactier in Athens, 2004) and I was the fifth heat in the afternoon session.”

However Wiasak admitted it was a world record set by her teammates the night beforehand which laid the foundations for her podium launching momentum.

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“I missed out on a ride in the team pursuit the day before and it was very tough for me to watch my teammates win gold, I was very happy for them and they definitely inspired me today,” revealed Wiasak.

Amongst the team pursuit champions was fellow Australian Amy Cure who also joined Wiasak on the Individual Pursuit podium.

The 22-year-old Tasmanian conquered reigning world champion Joanna Rowsell (UK) in the battle for bronze.

“Amy (Cure) had a pretty tough couple of days, she rode in all three of our team pursuit (rounds), she won a national championship, has been in the sport for a number of years and someone I’ve learnt a lot from and I’m so happy to share the podium with her,” said Wiasak.

Meanwhile in the Geelong-Lithuanian community, Wiasak’s parents Alex and Simonetta (née Visockis) revealed a few tears had to be wiped away throughout the emotional hours between her first race and her time on top of the podium.

“Such a nerve racking morning from midnight to 8am not being there or able to provide any on location support,” said Alex Wiasak.

“In the end the feeling was one of immense happiness for such an (almost) faultless person who has worked so hard against the odds to achieve the second last goal on her bucket list.”

Ironically, Alex Wiasak played a pivotal role in accommodating the Lithuanian national team at the 2012 edition of the championships as the president of the local Geelong Lithuanian Sporting Club “Vytis”.

After a two year absence from the prestigious tournament, Lithuania made a return with teenager Edita Mazurevičiūtė finishing 15th in the Individual Pursuit with a time of 3:42.610.

Lithuanian legend Simona Krupeckaitė and her trainer/husband Dmitry Leopold were also displayed entering the track during Wiasak’s celebration lap, in preparation for the Women’s Sprint.

The dual Lithuanian athlete of the year recipient finished 7th in the category behind Guo Shuang (China) and Anastasiia Voinova (Russia) with the top four to be decided tomorrow.

9-year-old Edita Mazurevičiūtė also competed against Wiasak in the heats
9-year-old Edita Mazurevičiūtė also competed against Wiasak in the heats
© Organizatorių nuotr.

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