Rachael Sardelich’s participation in the recent World Masters Games (WMG) turned out to be uplifting in one way, and disappointing in another.
The Cambridge cyclist already had several sizeable events under her belt, and knows how these things work. She had put in a lot of hard training in preparation for what she considered one of her biggest yet, and was buoyed by the surge of support from a home crowd when she rode in the Avantidrome-based cycling WMG events.
Success in earlier races led her into a race-off for the bronze medal in the women’s sprint against Australian rider Megan Stevens.
“I won that, but was then relegated because I came out of the sprint lane towards the end of the race. It was devastating for me,” she said. “I went from having the most amazing feeling to the worst feeling possible in a short space of time. But in the end, that’s life. It is what it is, and it’s just going to make me work harder. It’s not going to stop me.”
Rachael had even done a victory lap before she was relegated. The official explanation given was that she had “not held her line during the last 200m of the race”. Megan was pronounced winner of the bronze, and a bruised Rachael moved into fourth place.
Despite it, Rachael views her WMG participation as positive. She beat her personal bests, “did way better than I had expected”, and absolutely loved the atmosphere.
“It was incredible. I would never have believed I would be riding in the Masters Games in the first place. It has made me – and my family – very proud.”
Rachael is no stranger to the demands of competitive sport. She entered various triathlons before moving more seriously into cycling once the Avantidrome was built.
“We bought a track bike and tried the Have a Go sessions. The adrenalin from that was unbelievable. I was hooked from the start.”
Her new-found passion spread through the family. Daughters Nina and Aimee are regular track cyclists, and husband Glenn provides whatever mechanical and other support is needed.
“We have all met the most amazing people through cycling.”
The family ride the Avantidrome track several times a week, and enjoy social rides. The thrill of those “big few days of racing” at the WMG has only spurred her on for more of the same, and Rachael will be back in the competitive saddle before too long.