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  Kristina Clonan excited for elite World Championship debut after outstanding Australian Championships  
 
  March 31st 2017  
   
  Kristina Clonan with her points race bronze medal at the 2017 Australian Track Championships.  
     
  When Kristina Clonan pulls on an Australian skinsuit at the 2017 UCI Track World Championships in Hong Kong she will be one of a number of rising stars making their elite debut in their first year out of the junior ranks.

The 18 year old who turns 19 during the Championships made a strong start to her elite career with five top 10 performances at the Oceania Championships in December. It was the Australian Championships however in early March, where Clonan made her claim for selection.

After finishing fourth in the individual pursuit where all three podium finishers (Rebecca Wiasak, Amy Cure and Ashlee Ankudinoff) had claimed medals at the World Championships, Clonan wasted little time asserting herself in the bunch races.

Bronze in an animated points race with Clonan featuring prominently throughout before narrowly missing the Australian title in the scratch race, where she took home silver. Her performances caught the eye of selectors and booked her a spot on the plane to Hong Kong.

This years World Championships may be all about gaining experience for Clonan but with the Commonwealth Games only a little more than a year away in her home state of Queensland, her determination is as strong as ever to step up further in one of the dominant track cycling nations.

Represented Australia at the Junior Track World Championships in 2016 winning bronze in the scratch race what was the experience like?

Of course I was stoked to come away with a medal. I had put so much pressure on myself and when our TP didn't go to plan it was nice to have another race to take out a bit of frustration on. But Junior Worlds was more about learning the team environment than anything else. It's the first step and so many juniors get to that point and realise its not for them because in all honesty its the first taste of real racing, a real team environment. So, of course medalling was something I had dreamt about for a long time, but what I learnt was so much more valuable and really paved the way for my ambitions leading into elites and into the future.

Oceania Championships in December was your first event in the elite category. You finished top 10 in the IP, points race, scratch race, omnium and Madison how did you find the step up?

Everyone had said the step up to elites would be difficult, and I knew even before I did my first race that it would be. I sat down with my coach and we had a real focus on the progression, no so much immediate results. I went in to Oceanias with, what I think was the right mind frame considering it was my first time riding with Olympians and world champions who have so much experience under their belt.

Heading in to Track Nationals what were your goals?

I was really going for a time in the individual pursuit, like I said everyone said the step up would be like nothing before, so I turned away my usual focus of getting a place to a more individual focus. I did this in all events actually, and I think it helped a lot because it took a lot of pressure off and I was really able to ride my own race. I surprised myself with my IP time, and was stocked to ride off Ash, who is such a classy rider, even if it did put me in filthy forth.

Started Nationals strongly in the IP qualifying fourth fastest in 3:37.645 how did you find the increase in distance from 2km to 3km?

I think I actually prefer the 3km. Before I rode it I was dreading the extra km because I know how much the 2km hurt me in under 19, but I feel like you can set more of a rhythm and settle into the groove a bit more. Funnily enough, my first 3km IP was at Oceanias and I rode my best 2km in that 3km. I could never get the 2km pacing right and I feel a lot more comfortable with the 3km.

Finished fourth after pushing hard in the ride for bronze against defending champion Ashlee Ankudinoff. Might have missed a medal but to finish fourth behind three riders who have won medals at the World Championships were you happy with the result?

Yeah for sure, like I said I was really riding for a time, then to get to ride off against one of my all time heroes was very special. Ash is such a classy rider, and I can not talk highly enough about her, if its on the bike or off the bike she handles herself so well and I'm very grateful I can race, and now learn from someone of her calibre. I did get forth, but that's a ride I'll remember for a very long time.

Claimed silver in the scratch race and bronze in the points race in a strong fields including Olympians and World Champions what did it mean standing on the podium in front of a home crowd?

I really enjoyed that race, mainly because it was the first race in elites where I felt super comfortable and didn't get all tied up on where that person is and what are they doing. Then in front of my parents and some friends that came out to watch, it was very special and such a great feeling.

What does it mean to be selected for the Track World Championships in your first year in the elite category?

To be perfectly honest, I'm riding with people who last year I watched in my little lounge room on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland at 2am as they competed at the Rio Olympics, to be riding along side them is something, of course I was working towards but was manly focused on my progression into the elite ranks, getting stronger so as I can be competitive amongst the 'big girls'. I guess directing my focus to the progression took a bit of pressure off, and I was able to race these women I've been idolising without getting bogged down in who's who, if that makes sense. But as you can imagine I'm acting as a sponge just trying to soak up all their information, but I'm stocked to be able to race in Hong Kong with these girls.

What are your goals for Worlds and what do you think the biggest challenge will be?

My goals for Hong Kong is to experience everything and anything I possibly can. Being a first year I hope to go to plenty more World Cups and get stronger and faster as I progress, but for the first one, I would like to get a feel of the racing and how the girls prepare for D-Day.

Looking further ahead just over a year to the 2018 Commonwealth Games that is obviously a target for you?

Being in Brisbane, where the Commonwealth Games will be held, the hype started about three years ago! It's definitely a target, and a long-term goal that's slowly becoming not so long term!
 
 
       
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