Glaetzer aims for first Olympic medal

Australian track cyclist Matthew Glaetzer is hunting for a first medal at his third Olympic Games.
Australian track cyclist Matthew Glaetzer is hunting for a first medal at his third Olympic Games.

Australian track cycling star Matthew Glaetzer is bullish about breaking his Olympic medal drought, having overcome a series of challenges in the last two years.

Glaetzer's main focus in Tokyo will be Tuesday's team sprint, where he will combine with Matthew Richardson and Nathan Hart.

Australia won bronze at the world championships in February last year, despite Glaetzer being sidelined with a torn calf.

That followed Glaetzer's thyroid cancer diagnosis in late 2019.

Most recently, Richardson has had to nurse a niggling back injury and a reserve was on standby in Tokyo for him.

Glaetzer, who has not raced in two years, is still confident the Australian combination can reach the podium at Izu Velodrome.

"The team sprint is definitely our focus, it has been the last two years.

"We have a really good team that works well together.

"We believe we're right up there for the medals.

"Knowing we would have gone significantly quicker with me in the team (at the worlds) is super-encouraging. We're in a pretty strong place here."

This is the 28-year-old's third Olympics and he is yet to win a medal, after a succession of near misses in the sprint events.

Glaetzer will also ride the match sprint and keirin in Tokyo, but the team sprint is their big chance.

"It's been a really tough two years for me, I've had to overcome a lot," he said.

"If I can put a good performance down with the team sprint ... and we come away with a medal, it's going to be so satisfying."

He added Richardson had managed his injury well.

"He has had his challenges, that's true, but he's managed (them) really well," he said.

"It's not been the perfect prep, but we can still really work with what we have.

"We can still get on the start line and rip it for Australia."

Glaetzer said the cancer diagnosis had "turned his world upside down", but also given him a new perspective on life and sport.

"I'm actually trying to enjoy it a bit more, with this new perspective, knowing there is life after cycling and just knowing that when I am relaxed, I perform at my best anyway," he said.

The Dutch won all the men's sprint events at the worlds last year - they won the team sprint by a whopping 1.175 seconds - and Glaetzer said they remain the combination to beat.

Australian Associated Press