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Saturday, 21 February 2015

Typewriting World Cycling Champion

Proud manual portable typewriter owner, Canberra's Rebecca Wiasak, this morning won the women's 3000 metres individual pursuit title at the UCI world track cycling championships at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines outside Paris, France.
In these days of arrogant, ignorant and grossly overpaid sports stars, it would be impossible to meet a nicer or more level-headed champion that Rebecca Wiasak. And she's hugely skilled across a wide range of other sports: middle distance running, basketball, triathlon, to name but a few.
Rebecca celebrates in Paris with Australian teammate and bronze medal winner Amy Cure.
With these qualifications and a proven background in newspaper journalism, perhaps plus a 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games gold medal, Rebecca might one day return to sports writing and aim to cover a Tour de France. If she does, she will have an old portable typewriter to take with her - far more reliable than a multitude of updated laptops.
Back in 2005, Rebecca joined The Canberra Times as a sports journalist. When she was leaving to concentrate on a highly promising multi-sports career, Rebecca plucked up the courage to ask me for a typewriter, as a farewell gift. She said she'd always wanted to own one, and that as a budding sports writer, a typewriter was a must-have. I told her that not only could she have one, but she could have one in the colour of her choice. She immediately chose yellow, hence she was given an Adler Tippa:
Geelong-born Rebecca, who turned 30 last May 24, became the oldest ever world championship debutant for Australia, after making the switch from triathlon and running to competitive road cycling in June 2010, the track in November 2011 and joining the national cycling program in 2013.
The day before her gold medal performance in Paris, Rebecca was overlooked for a ride in the team pursuit event, but stood on the inside of the velodrome and screamed for her Australian teammates, who  set a world record on their way to victory.
The US's Valente, Wiasak and Cure.
This morning it was Rebecca's turn, and she went it alone to be the fastest qualifier against the clock by more than two seconds, taking 0.6sec off the Australian record with a time of 3min 27.018sec. Then, in the biggest race of her life, the ride for gold against San Diego's Jennifer Valente, Rebecca simply had too much power and stormed to victory in 3min 30.305sec, beating her American rival by by 3.5sec.
“This is my first world championships. I’ve never won a national championship, so it’s fantastic to get a world title,” Rebecca said. 
Last year Rebecca was the last rider cut from the Australian team for the world championships in Cali, Colombia, and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, then in October she lost her national scholarship and was told her place in the program was up in the air. But she refused to quit and after a stellar national championships in Melbourne last month made the team for Paris.
Rebecca's sporting career started in Geelong in 1995 in Little Athletics and in 2000 she competed in the Pacific Schools Games in Sydney. She also represented in basketball, netball and cross country running, playing for the Australian-Lithuanian basketball team in Lithuania in 2009. She moved to Canberra in 2003. She raced as an age-grouper at the world triathlon championships on the Gold Coast in September 2009.