BENDIGO track sprinting sensation Alessia McCaig's stellar rise through the Australian cycling ranks has earned her another prestigious honour.
The 18-year-old, who is in the throes of completing her year 12 studies at Girton Grammar, is one of six tier-one recipients of the 2022 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship.
The nation's leading sports scholarship program, which is supported by Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport, awards funding and mentoring support to elite Australian athletes to help them reach the highest level in their chosen sport.
This year's scholarship winners come from a diverse array of sporting disciplines, including athletics, equestrian, mogul skiing, sailing, wakeboarding and of course cycling.
Previous cycling recipients have included Josephine Tomic (2008), Jack Bobridge (2009), Michael Hepburn (2010), Ashlee Ankudinoff (2011), Alex Edmondson (2013), Amanda Reid (2017), Lucas Plapp (2020) and Maeve Plouffe (2021)
McCaig, the holder of a swag of junior and under-19 national track records, will be mentored by former Australian Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham.
The Brisbane-born 33-year-old won Olympic gold in the 10m platform in Beijing in 2008, becoming the first Australian diver to win gold at the games since Dick Eve in 1924.
McCaig, whose scholarship was only announced this week, has already had a couple of conversations with Mitcham and could not be more impressed by her mentor.
"He's amazing. We will get a lot out of the relationship and friendship," she said.
"We have spoken a little bit already and gotten to know each other, which has been great.
"We get along well and seem to have a lot in common, so I am really excited to learn from his experiences and what he has to offer.
"The one-on-one mentoring that I receive through this scholarship will be invaluable and give me insight into what I may encounter in the future.
"I was very honoured overall to receive the scholarship and very shocked to receive the phone call to say I had got it."
The scholarship, which includes a $10,000 allocation for sports equipment and training expenses, is the latest in a long line of achievements for the Bendigo and District Cycling Club and Victorian Institute of Sport representative.
A dual Junior Track National Championships champion of champions winner (2018 and '19) and triple gold medallist at the 2019 Oceania championships, McCaig produced a clean-sweep of the gold medals at the Under-19 Track National Championships in Brisbane last December, highlighted by her Australian record-breaking performance in the 500m time trial.
She followed up by breaking her own time trial record at the state championships in March, before another dominant performance later in the month at the 2021 under-19 nationals, culminating in four gold medals and a pair of national records.
McCaig is now eagerly looking forward to the next phase of her career, after stepping up to the elite under-23 division as of October 1.
"Hopefully, I get some races in soon and then I can concentrate on nationals and Oceanias in March," she said.
"It's going to be difficult racing against the older girls, but I'm determined to do as well as I can and learn from the experience.
"If I come away with a medal, that's a positive, but I'm not expecting a lot.
"You can only race who you do and race in the race you are in, but that's worked out well for me so far.
"It's been tough without a lot of competitions of late, but you just have to keep motivated, keep the training up and do as much as you can and keep positive in these tough times.
"A lot of positives have come out of the last few months, like the scholarship, and I can always still get on the bike."
Away from the track, McCaig is counting down the days until her year 12 exams and the end of her secondary schooling.
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