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  Courtney Field Blog: 2015 Junior Track World Championships  
  September 18th 2015 By Courtney Field @CourtneyField1  
  After becoming Junior World Sprint Champion in 2014, Courtney Field had her eyes set on one thing a defence of the title in Astana in 2015. The journey has seen Field change coaches, claim two Oceania titles, her 19th Australian title, deal with disappointment and a series of injuries in the months ahead of the World Championships.

Field claimed two silver medals in the sprint and keirin, broke the Australian record in the team sprint and set new personal bests of 19.579 for the opening lap of the team sprint, 35.537 in the 500m time trial and 11.323 narrowly missing out on the Australian record in the flying 200, that was set at altitude and has stood for over 20 years.

As Field's time as a junior comes to a close with 19 Australian titles, 2 Oceania titles, 2014 Junior World Sprint Champion and four World Championship silver medals she is ready for the next step. Below she talks the journey of her 2015 Junior Worlds campaign and racing her final event as a junior.

This is my story from my whole experience from the 2015 Junior Track World Championships in Astana Kazakhstan and everything leading up to it. From last years win at the 2014 Junior World Championships in the sprint all the way to the 60-hour trip on the way home.

After having a major success last year in Korea, I had to come back with a plan to refocus and reset my goals to make it to my second and last Junior World Championships. After the world championships last year I decided that I was ready for a change. I changed coaches to my new coach (Head cycling coach at the Victorian Institute of sport) Glenn Doney and its fair to say it was the best decision of my life. As an athlete and a person I have grown and learnt to push myself to new levels on the bike and in the gym. Changing my mind set to loving the gym so I can become a bigger and stronger athlete. If I never had this change I don't think I would be where I am today. I needed to not think about being a skinny sprinter and come to terms myself with what I needed so I could be the best female junior track sprinter in the world, which took some time but I have never looked back. Everything about me has improved immensely from who I was one year ago.

After having a month or so break after 2014 Junior Worlds, I set my sights on the Oceania Championships, the National Championships and possibly junior worlds again.

I had one month to get fit enough for the Oceania Championships, with a new coach it was going to be difficult. It was a lot of hard work but we got there and I was undefeated in every event, which meant so much to me because it was my first time wearing the rainbow jersey.

The next thing I needed was to set my sights on nationals, and for me it was held in my training ground. Which is either really good (because you know the track) or not so good (because you are more relaxed). For me it wasn't so great. Fortunately for me I was probably in the best form of my life to date, Glenn had trained me well, my start had improved and I had got a little bit stronger. Unfortunately I had a terrible week. I flew in the team sprint, fastest time ever by an under 19 in Australia in the first lap which was a huge improvement from last year and I got silver in the team sprint with Caitlin Ward to the team of Rikki Belder, Steph Morton and Anna Meares, so I was stoked. The next day wasn't easy after doing the team sprints but I managed to back up and win the 500 TT, which was great, but after that race everything seemed to go down hill.

I didn't contest the keirin because it was before the sprints and I didn't want to risk a fall. Unfortunately the pressure from wearing the world stripes got to me and I didn't perform how I would have liked to. It was the first time I was ever beaten in a match sprint and I finished third. After that I wasn't so sure if I was going to make the junior worlds team as 2 other girls had performed amazing in my age group as well.

After the national championships I went on a holiday to Perth for 6 weeks, as I didn't think that I was going to make the team. But luckily for me while I was there I got the phone call to say I was in, and they are taking 3 girls instead of 2, as they do pretty much every year.

I came home and set up a program to get myself in peak form for junior worlds, from then it wasn't such a smooth ride, it had a lot of ups and downs, I got injury after injury and then I got sick a few times which caused me to have 11 weeks completely off training in the 7 month period of January through to August. It wasn't the best lead up that I could of hoped for but things like this happen and there was nothing that I could have done.

During the lead up we had our first junior worlds track camp and it was held around a big international event called ITS which was held in Adelaide. Our training camp was hard and it was the first time we had been together as a team. New Zealand and China were there and they just dominated, it was a real wake up call. They just rode away from us and we just could not catch them. We knew we had a lot of work to do and I learnt a lot from that camp.

The time was here, it was August and it was time for us to go to our second junior worlds training camp. There was nothing more that we could do about fitness and health now, we got all of our Australian clothes and had to take care of ourselves for 10 days. Cook, clean, wash, keep the rooms tidy and do food shopping, which was all fine. After the training camp we had to pack all our bikes, wheels and tools to get ready to put in the plane for the long trip to Astana. It was the longest trip I have ever done, 8 hours to Singapore, a 10 hour stop over, a 13 hour flight to Frankfurt, a 13 hour stop over and a 6 hour flight to Astana and we were finally there!

We got there and we transported hundreds of kilos of stuff to the bus from the airport, then from the bus to the velodrome and inside. We got to see it and it was amazing, it was huge, well that's what it felt like anyway. The boards were different colour, the bends were different, and it was warm. I was pretty excited to race. Fortunately for us Mikey, Matt Gilmore and Jason Niblett unpacked all our bikes, wheels and tools for us. We were so lucky. We only got there 4 days before racing started compared to some other countries that got there a week before it started, so we had to focus on sleeping, eating and recovering a lot. Before I knew it, it was race day. The people for the first 3 events were selected in the women's sprint events.

Day 1

The first event was the team sprint, I had been looking forward to this event for a while to see what sort of first lap time I could pull out. I had never used the gate before only heard what it sounds like. I hadn't been on the track that day. It was pretty exciting. I got out of the gate well and did the second fastest start of the girl's event with a PB so I was stoked. We qualified 3rd. Round 2 I got out of the gate quiet well strange for me that I didn't go as fast as my qualifying round but it was okay, we ended up getting 4th. I had to cool down and focus on the next day.

Day 2

The second event was the 500 and I was feeling the pressure as I got second last year and I was ranked number 1 for this event, so I went off last. Before I went the world record was broken. By a first year! It was an amazing time, it didn't startle me too much because I had prepared for that to happen anyway. I didn't get off to a good start, I pulled my front wheel up and then I hit so many of the foam things on the duck boards the whole race. I was still in medal contention until the last 150m and I just blew up. So that was upsetting but I held myself together as I still had 3 more days of racing to go.

Day 3

Today was the day; it was the day that I had been waiting for for a year. The sprint day, my favourite event and the event that I won my first ever world championship gold and rainbow jersey. I knew that if I qualified in the top 5 I had a good chance of medalling. I needed to focus on my flying 200 as that is one of my weak spots in racing. I qualified 3rd and I was so proud of myself, and I did a great time, only a few hundredths out of the Australian record that has been held for about 20 years. Going into the first round I had someone much slower than me but I couldn't be complacent as this is Worlds and anything can happen. Some of the big hitters actually got knocked out in the first round as well, so I was shocked. I won all my rounds on this day and I felt really good, now it was time to focus for the semi finals and finals day.

Day 4

Today was finals day, I knew either tonight I could come home being world champion again or I could come home not winning the event that I did last year. But every year is different and you can never treat them the same. I actually read the wrong time that I was meant to leave for the track and I was 1 hour late to the session. I had to completely change my warm up and get ready in the bus, leg oil and everything as there is no car that can just take me whenever I want. But it was okay, going into the semi finals I knew exactly how to race this girl thanks to CA videoing all the races from the day before. I won my match sprints in straight heats and now I was going into the finals with the German that qualified first and broke the world record in the team sprint. She had won all her races all year and I knew she was the one to beat. In the first round I made a big error in not riding fast enough and she just rode away and in the second round she was just better than me. I was pretty devastated but I knew I had got the ride for the keirin tomorrow and that I felt good still.

Day 5

I woke up with amazing legs, I was surprised how good I felt and I was out for blood in this race. I really wanted to win. It was a full day of racing so we had to get up early and pack and then you have breaks between races that are sometimes 2 hours but you cant go back to the hotel, and then sometimes you will have breaks that are 10 minutes.
First round I had a strong field but I had luckily not drawn any of the big hitters, I won the first round and felt really good. I had a 2 or 3 hour break but had to stay at the track like the other days, so I go into the stands or in the corridors and lay on Mavic wheel bags so the ground is not cold and it is soft so I can rest. I did that all week so I was used to it by now, I was having liquid meals and plain rice because I was struggling to eat. I knew I had 2 rounds left and I needed to be well rested. Round 2, I raced well, and I felt like I had the legs to win the keirin, and I was racing smart. The final was 15 minutes after round 2. I was the only Aussie in the final and Tahlay just won the 7-12th before I had to go up for my race so I had lots of adrenalin. I got the motorbike in the final like I had in every other race and the 2 top seeds were behind me. The laps were slowly ticking down as the race went by and everyone got into position, and I can remember it clearly the Polish girl jumped over me and I was happy because I was in a good position that I didn't use as much energy and when the German that had beaten me in the sprint and I rode around her I still wasn't panicked and then it came into the bell lap and I didn't make the winning move and go over the German when I had the chance and the race was still slower, I didn't back myself. I was stuck next to her the whole last lap on the outside and just lost. It was hard because as soon as I got off I knew that I didn't make the move I should of and that's why I lost the race. But I can now say I wont make that mistake again.

Overall I think the event was well run and I made a lot of friends from the experience. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything and now I'm moving up to the senior ranks to race the best of the best in the elite women and I'm extremely excited to learn from and race the world's best female track sprint cyclists.

Courtney's blog from the 2014 Junior Track World Championships
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