Peloton Watch
  Strong start to elite career for Junior World Champion Lauren Perry  
  March 12th 2015  
  Lauren Perry is one of a number of rising stars of the Australian track program to have come out of Tasmania in recent years. In 2013, as a first year junior Perry stormed to victory in the individual pursuit at the World Championships in Glasgow. Perry also claimed bronze in the team pursuit. A return to the Junior Worlds last year brought more success and medals. Gold in the team pursuit with a strong Australian team and a bronze medal in the individual pursuit.

It was less than two months before Perry would make her senior international debut at the Oceania Championships in October. The last five months have been some of the best of her career. A silver medal in the team pursuit at the Oceania Championships and fourth in the Madison National Championships in December. But 2015 has seen an on form Lauren Perry on the boards successfully step up as an elite rider.

Perry's debut selection at the Cali Track World Cup in January saw her take gold in the team pursuit with Alex Manly, Macey Stewart and Elissa Wundersitz. Australia's first since 2010. Perry then faced another quick turn around to defend gold in the team pursuit at the Australian Championships before picking up her first senior individual national title in the scratch race.

Riders move from the junior to senior ranks at the own pace but Perry's successful start allows her to move forward with confidence. With the 2014-15 track season complete Perry now turns her attention to the road with the new High5 Dream Team.

PelotonWatch: You won the individual pursuit at the Junior World Championships in 2013. How big a moment was it for you?

Lauren Perry: Winning the individual pursuit for me, at that time was the biggest moment of my cycling career. As a junior in under 15's and 17's it was a massive goal of mine to make a Junior Worlds team and a dream come true to win a World Championship! Being a first year under 19 the win was completely unexpected - especially in an individual event. I barely slept that night, I was on such a high!

PW: You had the chance to wear the rainbow jersey at the National Championships in January 2014 what was it like riding in the rainbow stripes on home soil?

LP: It was an awesome feeling to have earned the right to wear the rainbow colours on home soil, and I was glad to do them proud winning a silver medal in the IP against Alex Manly of South Australia, such a talented rider who earned herself the gold medal that night. A lot of people said I would feel great amounts of pressure wearing the colours as most people would expect me to win if they knew I was the current Junior World Champion. I think I used those words in a positive way which actually helped me to enjoy the race and make the most of wearing a rainbow skin suit, something not a lot of people get to do in their lifetime.

PW: Last year you qualified third fastest in the IP and won bronze at Junior Worlds. How disappointing was it to miss the fight for gold and a chance to defend your title?

LP: Heading into the Championships in Korea I had been quite sick before I went on our last training camp which knocked me around a bit, but after working with coaches and my team mates I was ready to take on the Junior World Championships for the second time. I was excited for the racing, but also had the result of the previous year lingering in my mind and a lot of superstitions (eg should I wear the same skinsuit as last year? Was it lucky? I'd won some big races in the socks I wore, were they lucky?) At the end of the day I had prepared myself as much as I could and it wasn't going to matter if something was lucky! That's what I had to keep reminding myself. I had been told it was very rare to medal in the same event consecutively so I was very happy to qualify 4th and have a chance at a medal! It would've been amazing to win back to back but I couldn't complain about an individual bronze medal, so many juniors dream of going to a junior worlds and never get the chance to go, let alone medal, so for me going to the championships and bringing home a medal as a reward for all my hard work was something I was proud of.

PW: You were part of the winning team pursuit squad at Junior Worlds after disappointment in 2013 how special was it to win in 2014?

LP: After a disappointing Team Pursuit qualifying in 2013, winning the same race a year later was awesome! The Team Pursuit is my favourite race and to share the win with my teammates was the best feeling!

PW: You made your senior debut at the Oceania Championships in October claiming silver in the team pursuit what did you take away from your first event as a senior?

LP: After competing at my first event as a senior, I learned so much about what the racing is like and what I need to do to improve myself. Some of those lessons, which actually helped me to win the national scratch race at my first senior nationals. I was honoured to ride with such talented girls in the team pursuit, where we won silver, and hope I will get to ride in a team with them again in the not too distant future.

PW: Selected for your first World Cup in Cali in January. You came home a gold medallist and overall World Cup winner in the team pursuit. How did it feel?

LP: Winning the gold medal in Cali in the Team Pursuit was one of my favourite experiences! We went to Colombia to learn and improve and surprised ourselves with the win and a massive PB. In the words of our coach, Gary Sutton "I took a bunch of school girls away and they came home with a gold medal at a world cup!" It was a surprise for everyone! It felt good to know we are capable of mixing it with some of the world's best elite women, so it gave me confidence that I am on the right development pathway. The result really helped as a small stepping stone from junior to senior ranks. It made the step up feel a little smaller.

PW: You successfully defended your team pursuit title at the National Championships. What meant more winning it for the first time or defending it?

LP: I was so excited to win the TP with the Tassie girls again this year, however I think winning last year was perhaps a little more exciting because of the finish being so close, and it being our first win together! Don't get me wrong, this year was incredible too! As for meaning, every national title has so much meaning and it is a reward for all of our hard work. Each medal brings a memory to me and I was lucky enough to share two of those special moments with an amazing team!

PW: You won the women's scratch race on the final day. How did you feel as you crossed the line first?

LP: The scratch race has always been my favourite individual event, and something I have wanted to win at the national championships for so long. To win it at my first senior national championships with my nan and pop there to watch was very exciting and I am so proud to be Senior Australian Champion! Crossing the line I was so happy I had finally pulled of a win in my favourite individual event. I had learned a lot over the racing earlier in summer (Oceanias, National Omnium and the Tassie Carnivals) and the knowledge played a vital role in helping me to secure that win.

PW: It has been a successful start to the senior ranks for you, other than the results what can you take away from Oceania Championships, World Cup and Nationals?

LP: I am so grateful for the successful start I have had to the senior ranks, and I have learned so much, which I know, will benefit me in the future. I certainly wouldn't be where I am without the help of many people, Matt Gilmore and my dad in particular, and look forward to following the pathway into the future and hopefully achieve some more of my goals, even if it does take a while!

PW: Second at the Bendigo Madison. What do you like about the Madison and would you like to see the women's Madison become a UCI event?

LP: Macey and I were so happy with second place at the Bendigo Madison. I love the race and the combination of speed, skills and teamwork. I think it would be awesome to have a women's Madison as a UCI event, the sooner the better! Another step forward in making menís and womenís cycling equal!

PW: What are your goals for 2015?

LP: In 2015 I would like to improve as much as possible and look forward to riding with High5 Dream Team. I also hope to make another world cup at the end of the year, and already can't wait for the next track season to come around!

Lauren Perry in action during the IP at 2014 Track National Championships.
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