Two-time Olympic champion Ryan Bayley of Australia prepared to leave the Beijing Games on Sunday with a huge question mark hanging over his future in the sport.
Bayley came in as the reigning champion in track cycling’s tough speed events of the sprint and keirin but failed to make the quarter-finals finals of either competition.
Although admitting in the days prior to the Games his form had been “up and down”, Bayley’s latest setback – following disappointing displays at the last two world championships – does not bode well for his future. Admitting he would like to go on until the next Olympics, the London Games could not look further away for the 26-year-old, who admitted he said he will likely take at least a year out of the sport.
“I am not sure if I want to continue or if I want to do something else,” said the 26-year-old, who in recent years has been eclipsed by the man he beat in Athens, Theo Bos, and more recently Scotland’s Chris Hoy.
“It’s difficult when you have done everything there is to do. It’s hard sometimes to get yourself up for events. But then again I don’t want to leave on such a crappy note, so who knows? I need to go back and remember why I enjoyed bike riding in the first place, have some fun with it and be one of the boys.”
Australia’s head coach, Martin Barras, said the door would remain open for Bayley but admitted he had to make up his mind.
“Coming here as the double defending champion … that’s a bit disappointing, but I’m not necessarily surprised,” Barras told AFP. “I’m not sure what his plans are. It’s finished for him here now. He’s going to take a break, but where he goes from there I don’t know.”
Dutchman gets out of bed to help stricken pursuit team
The Netherlands Olympic track team brushed off their latest brush with disaster to qualify for the first round of the men’s Olympic team pursuit on Sunday.
After crashes in midweek, and then losing key pursuiters Jenning Huizenga, they managed to qualify for the crucial first round only hours after losing another key member of their quartet.
Niki Terpstra, who rides as a professional on the road for Milram, suffered forearm, chin and chest injuries after crashing heavily as he rode to the Laoshan velodrome. Terpstra came crashing down when team-mate Robert Slippens, who he was riding behind, braked hard to avoid hitting a police car.
It meant the Dutch had to make a last-minute call to Jens Mouris, who was lying in bed when he got the emergency call from his coach Peter Pieters.
“I was lying in bed when Peter phoned me and asked me if I could ride. I just hurried my way here,” said Mouris.
The unfortunate incident failed to shake up Mouris, who joined Wim Stroetinga, Slippens and Levi Heimans in posting a time of 4min 04.806sec during qualifying. It got them among the last eight who contended the first round later Sunday, although they progressed no further after being caught by the Australians in their heat.
The Netherlands suffered an earlier setback in the competition when Huizenga, who won a world championships silver medal in March, pulled out of the team pursuit after failing to qualify for the individual first round.
Heimans then suffered a crash, leaving him short of top form. Along with Terpstra’s accident, it left them with a bigger challenge than they’d hoped to face.
“I mean it sucks,” said Stroetinga. “Our time was not bad but we need to go faster to make it to the best four.”
France, Spain and Russia are also qualified for the first round.
Britain has dominated track cycling events at the Laoshan Velodrome to date, winning three golds from four races, as well as a silver and two bronze medals.
In the only final on Sunday, they will be assured of a further two medals as Rebecca Romero and Wendy Houvenaghel race for gold and silver in the women’s pursuit.