Rainbows are just the start for Tom Cornish: TrackNats23

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For elite cyclists, pulling on the world champion’s jersey is a career-defining moment. But Sydney sprinter Tom Cornish sees it as only the beginning.

The 23-year-old made up one-quarter of the Australian squad that won rainbows in Paris last year.

Racing alongside Leigh Hoffman, Matthew Richardson and Matthew Glaetzer, Cornish helped secure Australia’s first world title in the men’s team sprint since 2012, dethroning the all-powerful Netherlands.

Now, with the national championships just around the corner, Cornish isn’t letting success get to his head.

“I’m hopefully just at the start of my career. It’s good learnings, and I think we don’t really want to change a whole lot,” Cornish said to AusCycling about that victory.

“Obviously, now we’re world champions and everything, but I think what we’re doing is working, so the main thing is to stick to what we’ve been doing, because it works so well.”

Tom Cornish with the Australian team sprint men's team at the world championships in Paris 2022
Tom Cornish (second from left) and the men's team sprint world champions. (Photo: Getty Sport)

The last time Cornish won a rainbow jersey, it was in 2018 when he broke the world record in the 1,000m time trial at the Junior Track World Championships.

In the five years since, Cornish and his squadmates have focused on the fundamentals: time in the gym, time on the track, training well. He sees these new rainbow bands as the reward for that effort, and there’s no reason to let go of the accelerator.

“Years of work to get to that point; it just flashes before your eyes,” Cornish said about the medal-winning moment.

“We’d been working so hard, and it was such a strong team that just breaking into the team was almost the hardest bit. But lots of hard work paid off, and it’s good to be there to be able to share it with everyone.”

The 2023 season has only just begun, but already the signs are good.

Cornish spent Christmas at home before returning to training with the Australian Cycling Team in Adelaide. Their first competition was in Jakarta at the UCI Track Nations Cup, where the men’s sprinters once again beat the Netherlands to take victory (albeit with some good fortune).

Cornish was particularly happy with his result in the keirin, where he placed fourth.

“I wasn’t too sure how it’d go, because we’d only been in general prep. We haven’t had too many indicators of our form,” Cornish said.

“I was super stoked to do as well as I did in the keirin. There were 54 starters and I made it to the gold final, which I was absolutely stoked with.

“I thought I finished that day pretty strongly, and it was a good indication of where my form was at.”

This shapes to be a pivotal year in the young sprinter’s career, not least because Australia will aim to defend its title at the first combined UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow, which will raise the profile of track cycling further.

Beyond that horizon, Cornish is striving to make his Olympic debut in Paris next year. There will be only three spots on the team to share between Australia’s four fast men, and it’s likely that selectors will choose between Cornish and Glaetzer to anchor the team sprint.

“That’s going to be a big challenge for me to prove that I’m the guy for the job, and I’ve got the acceleration and speed to bring it home,” Cornish said.

“From here, it’s a bit over a year until selection, so I’ve got to bring everything I’ve got, pretty much.”

Next on his program will be the AusCycling Track National Championships, which start next Wednesday in Brisbane.

TrackNats is a rare chance for world-beaters like Cornish to return to their roots, mix it up against domestic competition, and inspire more Aussie success. That’s why Cornish is looking forward to wearing the rainbow bands when he races the team sprint for New South Wales.

Tom Cornish time trial national champion
Cornish will link up with his New South Wales teammates in Brisbane next week. (Photo: John Veage)

“It’s a nice reminder to everyone that it’s doable,” Cornish said about the jersey.

“I remember back in 2018 or 2019, when all the enduros had their rainbow bands, when they were in the team pursuits at Nationals. That was so cool, seeing all of them repping that.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to do the same thing, showing off the rainbows to people, showing them that it’s doable.”

Hoffman and Richardson will also be in action, as well as Commonwealth Games champion Kristina Clonan, who’ll be vying for her fourth consecutive sweep of the women’s sprint events.

“It’s not often that everyone in Australia is together and on decent form. I’m looking forward to hanging out with the team and seeing everyone and having a bit of fun, to be honest.”

For tickets and information about the 2023 AusCycling Track National Championships, visit the event page.


Feature photo: UCI

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