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Ivory holding steady on hectic road to Rio

RANKIN Park mountain bike riderCameron Ivory almost gave “the whole cycling thing away” in his late teens.
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ON TRACK: Rankin Park’s Cameron Ivory in full flight at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. Picture: Getty Images

Now the 23-year-oldbelieves he is on course to become an Olympian.

Ivory is the second-highest ranked Australian cross-country rider in the world at No.83 and needs to only hold his position among his countrymen over the next three monthsto all but secure a Rio Games berth.

Fresh from victory in the national series round at Thredbo this month, Ivory will compete at the sixth and final event on the circuit at Toowoomba on March 4-5 then the Australian titles on March 17-20 at Bright.He will then head to theOceania championships in New Zealand on March 26-27 before the defining events in his Olympic campaign.

Rio hopefuls haveWorld Cupsin Cairns (April 23),AlbstadtinGermany (May 21-22) and La Bresse inFrance (May 28-29) to build their international points. Those points determine the number of Olympic berths given to each country and give national selectors a guide to picking their team in June.

Ivory believes Australia shouldlockin two places in the men’s competition for Rio and he was confident of taking the No.2 spot behind multiple national championDaniel McConnell.

“I think Dan has both of his feet in the door,” Ivory said.“That second spot is up for grabs and there’s a few of us aiming for that.

“One guy is pretty close, but I’m not overly worried. I tend to go better once I’m overseas. I can lift my performance to another level, so I’m just looking forward to getting over there.”

Ivory has 372 points and his nearest Australian rival,Brendan Johnston,has356.

“I should beable to hold that No.2 spot,” he said.“This is my second year as an elite. Last year was quite tough in the World Cups because I was still using my under-23 points for start positions.

“I went from the top 20 to starting in about 80that World Cups in a field of about 140 guys, so it was quite hard to move up.This year I’ve got a lot more points so my start position should be a lot better and hopefully that will set up my races better.”

In each ofthe past two years Ivory has based himself in Switzerland for four to five months of training and he will make the trip again to prepare forRio.

Although he has sponsorship from bike companySpecializedthis year, Ivory has been mostly self-funded over the past two years while working at Woolworths in Marketown and studying a TAFE diploma in mechanical engineering. He said it was hard to juggle his commitments on top of15-20 hours of work on the bike each week, as well asgym sessions,but he was inspired by his Commonwealth Games experience in 2014.

He was eighth atGlasgow in the under-23s and now wants to test himself against the best at the Olympics.

“A few years before that I was sort of thinking about giving up on the whole cycling thing,” he said of Glasgow.“I stepped back for about half a year then got back into it slowly.Everything has really picked up from there.”

“I’m lucky to have the Commonwealth Games experience under my belt as well. I know the selectors take that into account.”

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