Shane Perkins interview: Commonwealth Games gold medallist looking to London
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Shane Perkins interview: Commonwealth Games gold medallist looking to London

by Ed Hood at 4:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
Australian sprinter speaks to VeloNation

Shane PerkinsRecently crowned Commonwealth Games sprint champion, Shane Perkins of Australia showed strong form of late, beating French sprint giants, world champion Gregory Bauge and world 200 metres record holder, Kevin Sireau to the title of 'Master of the Sprints' at the Six days of Grenoble.

It followed on from that Commonwealth Games performance, where he bested fellow Aussie Scott Sunderland to grab the gold medal. Perkins was in line for a sprint/keirin 'double' but was disqualified by the judges after South African Bernard Esterhuizen and Scot Ross Edgar crashed.

The decision was a controversial one, with some agreeing with it and others feeling that Perkins was harshly penalised.

The 23 year old multiple national champion spoke to VeloNation at the Grenoble six, talking about that Commonwealth Games disqualification, learning Keirin racing, his aims for the Olympics and his previous ‘wild man’ tag.

VeloNation: Your dad was a rider, Shane ?

Shane Perkins: Yeah, he actually rode sixes. He was a coach, a frame builder, we went to see races, I was always around bikes and races when I was young. I did cricket and football at school - all the normal stuff; and I was I good at basketball.

But I got sick of it all when I was 12 and asked my dad if I could get a bike…he put together a second hand bike for me and that was me on the way.

VN: The Aussie way seems to be to race a lot…much more than the GB guys, for instance ?

SP: That's true for me, yes - I've done the Japanese keirins for the last two years. But at the Australian training centre in Adelaide, it's much more like the GB system with big blocks of training leading in to specific races.

But I enjoy the keirin and riding sprint tournaments at the six days. For the Worlds and the London Olympics, I'll cut back on racing. It has been good for me, though - I haven't had to train because of all the racing I've done, and that stops staleness setting in.

VN: How does your training split between road, gym and track?

SP: With doing the Japanese keirin circuit the last two years, that takes up months of your year. You're always travelling and racing so the main thing is recovery. You fit in road rides and gym time when you can.

Shane PerkinsVN: What do you think of the new Olympic entry criteria?

SP: It makes it difficult. There's only one rider per nation for the sprint and for the keirin. It's not the riders' choice, so we just have to get on with it.

I guess it levels the playing field with there being no possibility of collusion, but it's going to be difficult to qualify. That’s very stressful for the athletes.

The sprint is what I'd ideally like to go for at London; with the Keirin there are so many guys on the track that anything can happen.

VN: Last year you won four Aussie track titles…

SP: Yeah, team sprint, sprint, keirin and kilometre. I was in pretty good shape but even so, by the time the kilometre came round, I was pretty tired. Anyway, I thought that I might as well give it everything!

VN: Sprinting is much less tactical, these days - more of a drag race…

SP: Sprinting evolves, guys are stronger, faster and gears are bigger. It's very hard to wind it from 'cat and mouse' stuff so the sprint tends to open up earlier to let riders get the gear rolling.

VN: Will you be doing more sprint tournaments at the sixes ?

SP: I'd love to get more invites; I've done Amsterdam and I’m here at Grenoble. You do a lot of work each night so it's good training and fun as well.

VN: Tell us a little about the keirins…

SP: You have to go to keirin school to learn. I was there for a week the first year and then a two day 'refresher' the second year.

It's on steel bikes, standard cranks, pedals - spoked wheels. You race and travel a lot - you're away from home for up to six months.

You have to declare before the race how you're going to ride it, there's 'sanko' when you go for a long one; 'makuri' when you go from maybe 200/300 metres out and 'oikumi' when you go late - maybe 50/100 metres.
It's a great experience and financially rewarding - I have kids to feed, now!

VN: What are your thoughts on Delhi and your disqualification?

SP: I think that the keirin has become very stale, it's getting to a stage where we should go off in lanes - and they took so long to make the decision.

I made my feelings clear to the judges when I won the minor final and gave them that salute. [Winston Churchill would have been proud].

Shane PerkinsVN: London 2012 - will you be trying for sprint and keirin qualification ?

SP: It'll be very hard with just one slot per event and I might well be looking to go for team sprint, too.

VN: What about your 'wild man' tag ? You've had a few brushes with authority…

SP: I've turned my life around and those experiences were all part of what made me the person I am today. Everything happens for a reason and now, I'm loving my life; I have a great family, a great job and I'm getting results.


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