Just over forty cyclists and para-cyclists will compete in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics over the next two months however, more Australians are heading abroad to help deliver the Games.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a wonderful celebration of sport, diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusivity. However, whilst the athletes boarding the planes to Tokyo tend to get the spotlight, there are hundreds and thousands of support workers who contribute to the success of any Games.
A fundamental aspect of any cycling event is the volunteers, officials, commissaires and instructors who contribute to the smooth and safe running of the competition. Australia has four officials and commissaires heading to Tokyo to officiate at the highest level.
Tracey Vince from Queensland started racing BMX at the age of seven and competed in Queensland for the next ten years before starting her first officials at the age of 16. Since then, Vince has completed every official and commissaire course ahead of her to become one of the most qualified BMX officials in the country.
“Once I did my state course, I started to think about the next step after this and the next step after that. I was lucky to be surrounded by a handful of other female commissaires who supported me,” Vince said.
Vince’s role at the 35th Olympic Games will be president of the commissaire panel number 3 or informally known as PCP 3. This role plays a pivotal role in the organisation of the start hill as well as all staging behind the scenes before riders descend the ramp at Ariake Sports Park.
Vince is one of a few who have already seen what the track is like in Tokyo when she was a commissaire at the Tokyo Test event in 2019, where Australia's Saya Sakakibara took gold.
“The test event itself was an experience, but the Olympics is the real thing. It’s a lot more nerve-racking. To work at the Olympics and to be the first female Australian to work at the games in BMX is a lifelong dream fulfilled.”
Joining Vince in the south of Tokyo will be Olympian Luke Madill, fulfilling a role as a technical delegate for the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale). Madill’s position is centred around ensuring the track and its surroundings are safe and ready for the riders to compete.
This includes multiple track inspections to ensure the surface and all line markings are correct and monitor the weather conditions.
“I never thought I would be part of an Olympics as a rider, and now, twelve years since I competed, I’m heading to my next Games as an official. I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Madill said.
Louise Jones will be attending her third Olympic games in a technical official role after competing in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in Track and the following Games at Barcelona in Road.
Jones has been appointed as a member of the commissaire's panel for the road events in Tokyo. This role entails an abundance of responsibilities throughout all four road events, including sign-on and judge for the men’s road race, commissaire two for the women’s road race which includes leading the race before following the leading group, out on the course as a commissaire in the men’s time trial and at the finish line in the women’s time trial.
“I am looking forward to attending an Olympic Games as a technical official after competing in two previous Games. I have worked with the other appointed officials before in many international events. The two weeks quarantine will provide ample time to clear my emails!” Jones said.
Just over two weeks after the closing ceremony in Tokyo for the Olympic Games, the 2020 Paralympic Games will begin with a host of Australian talent hitting the track and road to contest for gold.
Karen O’Callaghan will be jetting off to Tokyo to fulfil her role as the secretary of the panel for cycling at the Paralympic games. This involves creating seedings and start lists, as well as checking results before they are published. This role is pivotal in ensuring everything is running smoothly throughout the cycling events however O’Callaghan is up to the task, this being her 25th year as UCI commissaire.
“This will be my first Paralympics, and I enjoy working with para-cyclists as they constantly encourage one another. I’ve seen it at World Cup’s and World Championships, they will cheer on anybody that’s racing,” O’Callaghan said.
“A memory that stands out is at the 2018 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, two Indian blind cyclists riding tandem came up against one another in a heat.
“One rider was at the start line, and I went to get the other rider; however, the rider said we’ve only got one pair of handlebars between the two of us and he is a better rider than me. Fortunately, one of the Australian mechanic’s lent a pair of handlebars and they were both able to race.
“Their courage, their tenacity, the way they support one another regardless of the country, it’s truly marvellous.”
O’Callaghan was the chief judge of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and a handful of World Championships worldwide. She has loved travelling the world for cycling and hopes more young Australians start getting involved.
“We’re always on the lookout for new people to get involved as there are fantastic experiences involved. There is are so many opportunities to progress as an Australian out there.”
For more information on how to get your commissaire and the official journey started, check out what AusCycling has to offer below.
To keep up with all the Olympic action in the coming weeks, check out AusCycling’s Guide to the Olympics.