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Title gives O'Shea Games boost

SOME Olympic pursuits take a lifetime of work and still never materialise. Glenn O'Shea presents a contrasting case.

After becoming world omnium champion on Friday night at the first senior world track championships the 22-year-old has been fit to ride, O'Shea has all but got a ticket to London. This from a position of being so sick with ailments such as glandular fever and chicken pox that he had to stand out of the sport for a year. His comeback has come together in 18 months.

The six-part omnium, raced over two days, is the latest addition to the Olympic track program and hasn't been wholly popular, largely because traditional disciplines have bitten the dust to make way.

Australian Michael Freiberg won the world title in the event last year, but national selectors favoured O'Shea in the championships team, viewing him as the stronger option to help in the men's 4000-metre team pursuit.

While O'Shea was the weakest link in the quartet that had to settle for silver in Melbourne on Wednesday night, after winning the omnium - Australia's second gold medal - O'Shea tabled his determination to ride both events at the Olympics.

''Just to be here is amazing,'' he said after his victory, which followed his December crowning as Australian omnium champion.


''Eighteen months ago I set myself a goal, to go to the Olympics, and I've been ticking off the boxes ever since.

''This is a massive one ticked. I can hopefully go to London and do the same thing. But I'll leave that up to the coaches and selectors to decide.''

O'Shea moved from Victoria to South Australia, where he has been tutored even more closely by long-time coach Tim Decker, to pursue his aims.

Friday night's world title win proved his mettle on the track as well as off it. The stakes could not have been higher as he lined up for his final event - the kilometre time trial - on equal points with Canadian Zach Bell. O'Shea defeated him and won gold.

He didn't win a single race in the multi-discipline event but was consistent enough (third in the flying lap, fifth in the points race, second in the elimination race, sixth in the 4000-metre individual pursuit, fourth in the scratch race and second in the kilometre time trial) to win overall.

''I think I was annoying everyone in the pits by how amped up I was before the kilo,'' he said.

More conscious than most about how tough selection is for the national five-man Olympic endurance team, O'Shea still seems confident that his performance in Melbourne puts him ahead of Alex Edmondson and Cameron Meyer.

With Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn and Rohan Dennis the backbone of the pursuit team, Meyer has been cruelled by changes to the Olympic track program after his pet events, the madison and points races, were wiped.

''It is a tight selection, but I guess it's hard not to take the world champion in the omnium, isn't it?'' O'Shea said.

''The whole year, they [the national coaches] gave me targets … hopefully I've met them. Being world champion in the omnium, I think I deserve a spot at the Games.''