Garry Sutton has been involved in the task of a lifetime over the past few months - preparing the Australian women’s track cycling team for the London Olympics.
It will be Sutton’s fifth time at the Games, but his first as a coach. He competed in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics, and commentated cycling for the BBC at Athens and Beijing.
The Moree Champion caught up with Sutton in the lead up to London, while he was in Holland training his women’s team.
The women’s track cycling endurance team is made up of Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson, Kaarle McCulloch, Anna Meares, Josie Tomic and Melissa Hoskins.
The team has trained in Holland, Switzerland and Italy over the past few months, before they will head to London.
Sutton said the team was focussing on bonding, and training for speed and technique.
“This team has spent the last eight months together and is like one big family,” he said.
“They are ready for the Games.”
The team has been preparing mentally for the Games by listening to other successful Olympic athletes from a variety of sports, such as Australian hockey player Alyson Annan and Dutch soccer player Mark Overmars.
Sutton expects track cycling to be the strongest component of Australia’s cycling in London.
“Anna Meares is in the form of her life, and is one of the big favourites to bring home gold.”
He said the men’s pursuit team would also be ones to watch.
“They have won the World Championships three years in a row, but beaten by Britain this year, will be fired up to beat the Brits in London.”
The competition between the British and Aussie cycling teams will be even more heated, given the sibling rivalry between Garry and his brother Shane Sutton, who is head coach of Britain’s Olympic cycling team.
“We are both competitive and fully committed to our own teams leading into London. We don’t share training tips, and always have the same answer to the question ‘How is the team going?’ - both with the answer ‘just ok’,” Sutton said.
For Sutton personally, returning to the Olympics as a coach is a great achievement. It has been a long journey for the boy from Moree.
“I have always been proud to say I’ve come from Moree, a small country town,” he said.
“I can remember in 1968 watching the Mexico Olympics when I was 13, and saying to my Dad that one day I’d be an Olympian. Now I’m off to my fifth Olympics.”
Sutton hopes Moree’s many successful sportspeople will inspire other young athletes from Moree to follow in their footsteps.
“I would like to think that all young country kids have dreams like I did, and are inspired by role models from their chosen sports and never give up chasing their dreams.”