Sydney University Sports Scholarship holder Kaarle McCulloch teamed with compatriot Anna Mears to win the women’s team sprint final at the 2009 World Track Cycling Championships at the Pruszkow Velodrome in Poland on Friday.
McCulloch, a 21-year-old education student, and her team-mate put defending champions, Shanaze Reade and Victoria Pendleton of Britain, to the sword to claim the gold medal, with Lithuania finishing with the bronze.
Mears, who had her 500m time trial world record erased on Wednesday, led the Australians out in the final and powered over the first lap to lead Reade by the barest of margins.
McCulloch then took over and, despite having to hold off world and Olympic sprint champion Pendleton, she capitalised on Mears’s ride to bring Australia home in 33.149sec. Britain clocked 33.380sec.
McCulloch, who said she took up the sport after watching Meares, started the championships well on Wednesday when she knocked nearly half a second off her personal best in the 500m time trial.
“When you line up against the current world champions there’s a bit of pressure I guess. I just wanted to go out there and do my job, which was to stay smooth around the track, and I did that,” McCulloch said of the final.
The world title capped off a memorable 12 months for McCulloch, who won three gold medals at the 2008 Australian Track Cycling Championships with wins in a drama-packed keirin final to go along with wins in the sprint final and the 500m time trial. McCulloch also won silver in the team sprint.
“I certainly have big steps to follow in Anna’s footsteps and hope that I do well in the World Championships for Australia,” McCulloch said after the 2008 Australian titles. “The time trial is my strong point and long-term that’s what I will be concentrating on. I would really like to win a world title and it might come back in 2012 (Olympic Games) so I will keep focussing on it and also look to be strong across all four (sprints).”
With those prescient words, McCulloch’s chances at the London Olympics are looking very fruitful.