Peloton Watch
  Caitlin Ward Interview Oceania Track Championships  
  October 2nd 2014  
  After claiming silver in the sprint at the Junior Track World Championships in 2012 Caitlin Ward seemed set for big things. A bout of glandular fever temporarily halted those plans but since returning to full health Ward's career is back on the upward trajectory.

2014 has seen Ward collect four medals from four events at the Australian National Championships in January. Ward's first elite international sprint victory at the Japan Cup has lead to three more since. Heading in to the Oceania Championships Ward took some time to discuss her 2014 season so far.

PelotonWatch: You claimed silver in the sprint at the Junior World Championships in 2012 before being struck down with glandular fever. How difficult an experience was it letting yourself recover? Has it made you stronger?

Caitlin Ward: I found it very difficult, Glandular Fever is so broad in severity and there are lots of people I have met who have told me that they had it and didn't even know and I honestly get jealous. My glands swelled up so big that I looked a bit like Frankenstein and although I laughed it off and tried to make light of the situation - I was scared, annoyed, frustrated, and in a bit of denial as to how much rest my body really needed and how much weight I had lost. It is one of those things that gets you really sick, and then as you slowly recover and push yourself to do what was normal before and that's when I would relapse and have a shocking couple of days, bounce back, go a couple of weeks and then relapse again. As you can imagine this wasn't ideal for training and made for a very on and off training block for most of 2013. I am just lucky I have Hilton Clarke, Ben Willey and the support staff at VIS who gave me time, a bit of love and helped me deal with post glandular!

PW: 2014 started with four medals from four events at the National Championships, including beating Stephanie Morton in a keirin heat. Did the results build your confidence that has lead to the year you have had?

CW: For sure, it has certainly been a great year where Cycling Australia & VIS have given me opportunities to compete internationally and that all started at Nationals and the confidence I got there was exactly I needed. I really respect these girls I race and to be chasing and coming close to them is such an honour and to beat them I have to ride the perfect race, and to do that against someone as quick as Steph was a big fist pump moment, one that always pushes me to strive for bigger things and of coarse that fills you with fire and confidence.

PW: Your first elite sprint win came at the Japan Cup this year. What sort of meaning did standing on the top step of the podium for the first time in an international field have?

CW: Going to Japan I didn't know what to expect, I had just come off the Adelaide ITS and new in that form the Japanese really pushed me. It was also a trip filled with many firsts - working with the Aussie Elite team, first time not competing on AUS or NZ, first time working with Nick Flyger so I didn't really know what to expect and to come away with 2 gold and a silver plus a wealth of knowledge to put into practice in training was a great for my debut on the Aussie Senior team.

PW: You spent time with the senior sprint team in Adelaide last month how was it?

CW: It was a great opportunity getting to be involved at such a level with Australia's best. I value team environment and good rapport with coaches, team mates and support staff so highly and it was great to meet and get to know those who run the show for Aussie Cycling.

PW: In preparation for Oceania Championships you rode the BikeNZ Classic and Cup in New Zealand. With little racing during the winter months what role do these events play in getting ready for the season?

CW: It's great to practice your skills under pressure and keep them fresh in your mind and muscle memory. For a young athlete such as myself these opportunities are invaluable and I really appreciate how crucial they are for my development.

PW: Are you happy with your start to the season in New Zealand, claiming gold in both sprints and silver in the keirin?

CW: New Zealand was a great learning experience. I went there with my goals for the event more based on process than outcome so my results were just a bonus and of coarse, very pleasing.

PW: If someone had never watched track cycling before what would you say to encourage them to come and check it out?

CW: Most people watch sport because of the excitement, what could possibly be more exciting than cyclists riding around on the 'walls' of a stadium, on bikes with no brakes, when the crowd can literally lean on the fence and get up right next to the action!? Track is cycling's biggest secret in many ways, once you see it you love it but lots of people still don't know that the 'wall' is also known as a velodrome and haven't got to experience the diverse range of racing that track brings!

PW: What is your favourite thing about track sprinting?

CW: So many things, I love all aspects of this sport whether it's the speed, the power, my training, the lifestyle it's all challenging, 100% effort, split second decisions and just great fun!
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