Takos, Clarke, riding high into High Performance Unit

24 Aug 2017

SASI athletes Holly Takos and Tom Clarke have been recognised for their talent and commitment by winning selection into Cycling Australia's High Performance Unit.

Clarke, who was chosen in the Para-cycling HPU, represented Australia at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when he lived in Canberra, winning a bronze medal.

There, he was the tandem sprint pilot with visually impaired athlete Paul Kennedy.

Now, as part of the SASI program, Clarke has relished his involvement in the local program where he is expected to team with vision-impaired rider Brad Henderson as the pair aims to be selected for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

SASI Para-cycling Head Coach Loz Shaw said Clarke was a fantastic ambassador for the sport.

''Tom is quite a compassionate guy who has a little bit of everything,'' he said.

''His training and attitude were fantastic and we needed someone fairly strong to come into the program. Tom knows what he should and shouldn't do as a bike rider.

''He is very good for the group, thinks outside the square and ticks all the boxes.

''Tom and Brad will work towards the December track nationals which will be a selection for the Commonwealth Games. Because we are the home country we should get automatic entry but we want to show strong the program is and not have someone ride around and not be competitive.

''We need to make a statement.''

Takos, 21, also is regarded as an excellent team player to go with her outstanding results so far in the sport.

She also competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, finishing fourth in the Tandem Sprint and Tandem Time Trial.

Earlier this year Takos competed in the national championships in Brisbane, winning the Team Sprint and finishing fourth in the Sprint and fifth in the Keirin. She also won the Keirin and Team Sprint events at the Oceania Track Championships this year in Victoria.

SASI Head Cycling Coach Brett Aitken said Takos deserved her selection after plenty of hard work.

''It's been an absoulte credit to Holly and it has taken awhile,'' he said.

''She has taken a similar path to Steph Morton who went from a Para option, like Holly, which may have given her longevity to fulfil her single-bike ambition. Now hopefully this will lead to more chances to represent Australia on a single.''

Takos said it was a thrill to receive the scholarship to train with the Cycling Australia HPU.

''I've been working so hard and I had a great season last year so this was a great reward,'' she said.

''To be surrounded by the best athletes and staff in Australia and in the world is very special and I am very privileged to have been given this opportunity by head coach Nick Flyger to join the team.

''I am loving being a part of the squad, everyone has been extremely welcoming and I am excited to see what we can achieve together.''

For the time being Takos is working towards selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

''This process begins at the Oceania championships in November in New Zealand,'' she said.

''This will be my first race as a full time member of the national team and I am looking forward to drawing on my experiences from the recent world championships.

''At the world championships I saw my teammates achieve great things and I also came home super hungry to get my own rainbows.

''That is what gets me out of bed every morning - the dream of representing Australia at the Olympics.''

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