STAYING TOUGH: Jordan Kerby of Australia is seen during the men's 4000m individual pursuit qualifying event on day two of the track cycling competition at the XXI Commonwealth Games.
STAYING TOUGH: Jordan Kerby of Australia is seen during the men's 4000m individual pursuit qualifying event on day two of the track cycling competition at the XXI Commonwealth Games. DAN PELED

Gold medallist on shock axing from Australian Cycling Team

CYCLING: A phone call may have ended the career of Jordan Kerby, the former world individual pursuit champion and one of the fastest men to ever ride 4000m.

"I can still race. I want to race. I will still race," he said.

Kerby, the former junior world champion and two-time under-23 national road champion who won a Commonwealth Games gold medal as part of Australia's team pursuit team just two months ago, could now be finished.

On Monday, he received the phone call: he was dumped from the Australian Cycling Team.

Kerby was told Cycling Australia did not see enough improvement between now and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, and there was very little chance of making it back.

"I had no idea it was coming," a candid Kerby said.

"Everything was fine after the Commonwealth Games. Last week I was getting blood tests done for Cycling Australia."

Cycling Australia was contacted for comment.

A spoksesman said performance director Simon Jones is in Baku, Azerbaijan, supporting Australia's riders at the BMX World Championships, but CA stood by the comments in Wednesday's announcement.

For Kerby, who, with a small network of supporters around him, took himself to a world championship with one of the fastest individual pursuit times in history just 422 days ago, the axing seems unfathomable.

But the 25-year-old, who had never ridden a sub four-minute team pursuit before he joined CA's high performance unit in Adelaide nine months ago then broke 3mins 52sec twice since, is on the outer.

His career is at a crossroads, and he still can't quite understand why.

"I don't know. They have their numbers and results but I firmly disagree with the decision," Kerby said.

"I don't think I'll be selected for a world championships ever again as it's clear the individual pursuit is not a priority (as it is not on the Olympic program). I can qualify with a time but it doesn't mean I'll get to go.

"I'm just shocked, I still can't believe it."

Neither could literally hundreds of supporters, all of whom have reached out to Kerby or left messages in support since Wednesday's announcement.

Rebecca Wiasak (ACT), Rohan Wight (SA), and Nicholas Yallouris (NSW) were also cut.

Kristina Clonan (QLD), Leigh Howard (VIC), Macey Stewart (TAS) were added, along with a new "Podium Potential Track Academy", which will feature the best up and coming cyclists.

Jones said CA's goal was success at the Olympics in 2020 and 2024. For Jones and CA, success is defined as an Olympic gold medal.

"Our plan is all about continuing our focussed trajectory to Tokyo and beyond," Jones said in a statement.

"An important element of the team's balance and make up is to ensure a consistent flow of talent enters into the performance program, and we look forward to welcoming new riders into the Australian Cycling Team later in the year."

Kerby was expected to convert his 2017 world individual pursuit title into a Commonwealth Games gold medal earlier this year, but nine months of hard work to adapt to the team pursuit meant his individual race suffered.

He still rode a Games record in qualifying, one of five men to do so, but he finished fourth overall.

"I hadn't prepared for it. It's not an Olympic event so I went in without preparing for it, none of the Australians did," Kerby said.

"I just rode off experience. I always had in mind I'd do it but I don't think they expected me to go as fast given the prep."

Kerby is unsure exactly what his future holds, but there is one thing he does know: he will be back.

"I don't how I'm going to come out of this, it's pretty uncertain," he said.

"I'm not finished, but to what capacity or team or anything I'll try to ride for, I'm not sure."

Highs and lows in 14 months

Jordan Kerby became the world individual pursuit champion 422 days ago, a campaign in which the self-trained star rode the third fastest time in history on his way to an unlikely title.

In September, he started to train at Cycling Australia's base in Adelaide, splitting his time between the high performance unit and his life in Brisbane.

He won gold medals in both the individual pursuit and team pursuit at the Oceania Track Championships in November, then on February 2, just 127 days ago, he was named a member of Australia's Commonwealth Games team.

Kerby, Leigh Howard, Sam Welsford and Alex Porter combined to qualify fastest in the team pursuit in a news Games Record time of 3mins 52.041sec on April 5, just 65 days ago.

On June 4, just five days ago, he received the potentially career-ending phone call that ended his involvement in the Australian Cycling Team.


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