THE COVID-19 pandemic played havoc with elite cycling in Australia during 2020, but it certainly has not put the brakes on the blossoming career of star Bendigo cyclist Alessia McCaig,
Riding in her first major championships in nearly 12-months this week, McCaig showed she had lost none of her trademark desire and resolve by smashing a long-standing Australian record at the Elite, Para and Under-19 Track National Championships in Brisbane.
The 17-year-old on Thursday claimed her first under-19 national gold medal by winning the 500-metre time trial in a time of 34.816.
She doubled up later in the evening by securing a second gold in the keirin.
Her record-breaking time-trial performance eclipsed the previous mark of 35.1, set in 2008 by Olympic bronze medallist Annette Edmondson.
McCaig, who will enter year 12 in 2021, said she was genuinely shocked to have smashed the record.
"My form was there and my preparation was there, but a few weeks ago I did the time-trial about one second slower than what I did (on Thursday)," she said.
"I wasn't expecting to get a fast time like that and to break the record.
"I had to look at the board about three times just to make sure I wasn't misreading my time.
"I'm very happy - I wasn't expecting it at all."
The Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane has been a happy hunting ground for McCaig throughout her career and has again played host to her latest two national gold medal wins.
The ultra-talented teen is now the owner of three Australian records, after setting new marks in the under-17 200m flying and 500m team sprint at last year's Junior National Track Championships in Brisbane.
McCaig will venture home at the end of the nationals to compete in the annual Bendigo and District Cycling Club Christmas carnival, before setting her sights on the Oceania track championships in March.
In a year when so many sportspeople missed out on competing, McCaig said she was just grateful to be back out on the track.
"I tried to stay as self-motivated as possible, and I've been sticking to my training," she said.
"We've been down in Melbourne for a few months now, so I could still use the track, which was helpful.
"It was a lot of hard work, but it was tough for everyone."
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