For more than a decade Dr Lynne Munro has helped sprint cyclists across the world harness their full potential on the track.
Dr Munro has worked at the highest level as a sprint coach and has an impressive palmares.
She led the national track sprint team at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, where Australia bagged a swag of medals as well as set new Commonwealth Games records in men's team sprint and women’s time trial.
Just months later, the Australian men’s team sprint went on to be crowned world champions at the 2022 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
“Leading the national team at the Comm Games was a very humbling experience indeed. It was very emotional watching our flag go up having coached the winning athlete or team,” Dr Munro said.
“[And] the men’s team sprint winning the World Championships is of course an incredible thing to be part of. I’m super proud of what we’ve achieved in this and the year as a whole as co-lead [with Matt Crampton].”
But despite all her achievements she has not been immune to the challenges and bias that can exist in sport.
“For years being the only female coach at my level in the world, and a gay woman too, I have personally experienced inequity, have faced challenges and barriers that isolate, disconnect and limit,” she said.
“I think we can be blissfully unaware, unquestioning or resigned to accepting ‘how things are’, not realising there can be an alternative. When it impacts you personally, maybe you start becoming more attuned.
“Imagine if we could plant some seeds through our sport, where people open up from places of limited experience or awareness and connect. We can create a wonderful future if our environments become highly interconnected eco-systems where we are co-operatively evolving.”
Through her new role as AusCycling’s Head of Inclusion and Connection Dr Munro hopes to transform that narrative, not only nationally, but to contribute to “global change” too.
“When we talk ‘transformation’ we are talking shifting the underlying system and structures , as opposed to doing different things but repeating the same ‘ways’ we do them. Working together, in new ways, is the first step to the solution,” Dr Munro said.
Dr Munro’s appointment is part of AusCycling’s commitment to make cycling and riding safe, welcoming and all-inclusive.
AusCycling last year formed a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group with the aim to improve opportunities and participation across several areas, including gender equality and gender equity, Indigenous populations, diverse sexes and sexualities, those with a disability, plus culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
In her new role, Dr Munro will work closely with the advisory group.
“The vision is a united, collaborative and connected community. A network of people and places where anyone can explore riding a bike in whichever way they choose, where people can show up fully, have rich experiences, and be part of co-creating a future of freedom and possibility through bike riding,” she said.
“The foundation of this is in the title. Inclusion: everyone knowing they belong, knowing they have an equal voice and opportunity. Everyone’s aspirations and experiences being not only respected and understood, but invaluable to our direction, influencing we what do and how we do it.
“Connection is about being holistic and integrated. This starts with self, flows out to community and society, and embraces the deep interconnection to our land and environments. We share a interwoven story and identity. ‘Connected’ is not just how we want to be, but also how we want to engage and what we want to experience.”
At an elite level, Dr Munro says there is an opportunity to find the performance advantage in diversity, inclusion and connection.
“We need diverse perspectives, diverse approaches, environments where we can show up fully, bring out our unique super strengths as staff and athletes, but, critically, the ability to also find cohesion and directionality within this. Our established methodologies are very reductionist and have been built around developing male, able-bodied, athletes. Our environments are pale, male and, often, stale!”
“There is a need to explore entry points, pathways, and environments, to ensure everyone has access and equal opportunity to find their ‘best’. There is an opportunity to shift how we think, lead and to realise the power of unitive practice.”
Dr Munro is optimistic for the future of cycling in Australia and what she can achieve in her new role.
“Inclusive and connected networks are a force of nature. Connecting with people from different backgrounds opens our eyes, minds and hearts, we get exposed to how it could be to think differently, live a different way, do different things, It accelerates our growth” she said. “If we create spaces of belonging for all people, increase the richness of our environments and harness collective potential, we start to really shift the dial. Riding a bike and cycling is so powerful for enabling freedom of experience, there truly is no better sport to lead the way in driving transformation”.
Dr Munro will remain as Performance Specialist within the sprint team as they continue building towards 2024 Paris Olympics.