Rebecca Wiasak aims for Olympic Games after almost quitting before her world championship dream
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Rebecca Wiasak aims for Olympic Games after almost quitting before her world championship dream

New individual pursuit world champion Rebecca Wiasak will devote the next 18 months to her Olympic Games dream despite knowing "there's a very real chance I won't achieve it", admitting she thought a decade of training would amount to nothing.

But after a career of setbacks and knock downs in long-distance running, triathlon and road cycling which almost forced her to quit her elite ambitions, Canberra's newest world champion is refusing to give up on her track cycling niche.

Newly crowned individual pursuit world champion, Rebecca Wiasak.

Newly crowned individual pursuit world champion, Rebecca Wiasak.Credit:Graham Tidy

Still riding high on emotion after her world title win in Paris last weekend, Wiasak says she has an unwavering determination to chase her Olympic goal after proving she's a world-class athlete.

The 30-year-old will put plans to start a family and buy a house and car into a "future problems" basket and channel all of her energy into being a part of the team pursuit campaign in Rio next year.

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Rebecca Wiasak of Australia celebrates winning gold with bronze medalist Amy Cure.

Rebecca Wiasak of Australia celebrates winning gold with bronze medalist Amy Cure.Credit:Getty Images

But it's the dream that was almost over before it began after Wiasak conceded she was ready to quit before making the switch to cycling.

"It doesn't matter if you don't have a house or a car, they're future problems. You can't buy this," a beaming Wiasak said as she pointed to her world champion rainbow jersey.

"The Olympic goal and the Olympic dream drives me. I'm on a quest to be the best athlete I can be. Yes I've thought about quitting, there have been moments where I've had the overwhelming feeling that the work and training will never amount to anything and I'm making poor choices.

"I'm delaying other life goals to chase an Olympic goal and some people will never understand that. But I realise I had to do it, you have to realise the dream.

"I had a crossroads moment when I was in triathlon. I met with a friend, he said: 'you've got 7-10 years to be an elite athlete and the rest of your life to work. That resonated with me."

Wiasak arrived back in Canberra on Wednesday after claiming the world title in Paris and said "it doesn't feel real that I'm a world champion".

She raced at six world cup meets over the past two years and became the oldest Australian female world championship debutant.

She quit her public service job in September 2013 to focus on being a professional athlete, but her funding was cut by Cycling Australia after just nine months.

She has been living off $2000 per month from her savings and donations from friends.

But the hard road of persistence was made worthwhile when she claimed gold and smashed an 11-year Australian record.

"There have been so many moments [with friends and family] I've missed and those times suck," Wiasak said.

"If it all ended tomorrow, I'd be happy and I've got amazing experiences forever. I'm just keeping my head above water, I'm borderline and I hate being borderline. I'd love to know I'm going to an Olympics, but I don't. I'm still new in the sport.

"I wasn't in an elite athlete mindset when I was working, so I saved up some money and I had enough to live until the end of the year [in 2013]. But if I went well ... hopefully I'd get a scholarship. That's when it all started."

Wiasak will have to wait until later next year to find out if she will reach her Olympic goal.

She missed out on a spot on the four-strong team pursuit at the world championships, but sent a message to team selectors when she charged to victory in the individual event.

Wiasak will relocate to Adelaide in September to ramp up her training for what has been dubbed an impossible mission.

"People are saying now that it's almost impossible to make [the team pursuit], they smashed the world record [in Paris]," Wiasak said.

"But we're doing the same training so I know I'm just as good as those girls. There's a quota of athletes [for the Olympics] so it depends on how many sprinters they take.

"You have to realise that I might get 16 months down the track, or even less, and there's a very real chance I won't achieve it. It's been devastating with the teams I've missed out on.

"But I feel like I'm so close now and I've proven my dedication and commitment has got me some rainbow stripes and a world title ... I want to keep dreaming."

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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