THE Russians certainly don’t love Elanora cyclist Emily Roper, or the rest of the Australian “Baby” Cyclones cycling team which broke local hearts by dominating the UCI Junior Track World Championships this month in Moscow.
Roper became a proud world champion when the girls pursuit team, which included Georgia Baker and Taylah Jennings, beat the Russians by about two seconds in the under-19 event.
It came the day after the boys team set a new junior world record to beat the Russians in the corresponding event the previous night. The down-to-earth Roper is still coming to terms with being a world champion at just 17 years old.
She said the team put every ounce of its energy into beating the Russians, who qualified for the final with the fastest time.
“It was the biggest race competition I have competed in, and my nerves were racing,” Roper said.
“When we went across the finish line, it was a really big relief. We didn’t immediately start celebrating, because we were just too tired. We did a roll around the track to warm down and it didn’t feel like we had won a world championship until later on.”
While for many athletes, standing on the podium and singing the Australian anthem as a world champion is a teary and emotional experience, the three girls had huge smiles on their faces, and were singing loud and clear.
Roper’s mum Dawn had told her daughter before she left not to mime the anthem should she find herself on the podium, and to make sure she sung.
Roper reminded her teammates to sing before they got up on the podium and they belted out the tune with pride.
In the individual pursuit, Roper was fifth, and in the points score, seventh, and wants the opportunity to do better next year.
“I was a little bit disappointed with the pursuit, and I am hoping I will make the Australian team again next year so I can have another crack at it,” she said.
The globe-trotting Gold Coast Stars cyclist only gets a few days at home to recover with Dawn and dad Peter before she is off to the Isle of Mann to compete in the Youth Commonwealth Games.
Roper will test herself against some of the best in the world in the time trial, road race and criterium.
The 14-person Australian team finished on top of the medal table in Moscow with six gold, two silver and one bronze.
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