THE timing of the ACT government's decision to shut the Narrabundah Velodrome, pictured, because of safety concerns seems curious, given the same issues with the track have existed since its construction in 1972. The angle of the banks on the velodrome were always wrong, often causing bikes to become airborne at the turns when they were at top speed. ACT Academy of Sport cycling coach Glenn Doney said the Canberra Cycling Club was proactive and sought an independent engineer and former cyclist to examine the track in January this year, quoting $150,000 to fix the problem areas and another $50,000 to install lighting. That was presented to the ACT government for consideration, which inadvertently resulted in the track being shut down on Friday - indefinitely. Not since the very early days, when there were crashes galore, has the track been used for interstate racing. Safety standards are also in place, with ACT riders needing approval by accredited coaches before being allowed to train on the track. The closure has caused chaos for riders such as Nathan Hart and Bec Wiasak, who are pushing for selection for next year's world championships and Commonwealth Games. There are flat outdoor velodromes at Queanbeyan and Goulburn, but neither are appropriate for elite training. Meanwhile, ACTAS is exploring the possibility of taking their team of eight cyclists to the nearest indoor velodrome in Bankstown, Sydney, on a weekly basis for training.
Capitals rev search engines to replace Ardossi
THE Canberra Capitals were already on the search for some tall timber to replace Lauren Jackson, who never got on court last season because of injury. Now it appears they need to find a replacement for their Most Valuable Player from last season too, Brigitte Ardossi, pictured. The Capitals would like to keep Ardossi, who is currently playing with Victorian side Waverley, but don't believe they'll be able to match the money she'll be offered elsewhere. Ardossi was at the centre of a controversy last year when the Capitals handed her a three-match internal ban after she was given an unsportsmanlike foul for tripping Townsville's Rachael Flanagan. The Capitals are chasing aggressively the likes of Elyse Penaluna, Cayla Francis and Carley Mijovic, so stay tuned for announcements.
Jonny would be good
BRUMBIES flanker George Smith has the tick of approval from his Japanese club to make a comeback for the Wallabies, but could we see the return of another great for the British and Irish Lions? England's Jonny Wilkinson, who landed the extra-time drop-goal that gave England victory over Australia in the 2003 World Cup final, has said it would be hard to turn down one final chance to take on the Wallabies if selected for the Lions tour of Australia. Wilkinson retired from England duty two years ago but many believe the 33-year-old's form warrants selection for the Lions. The only drawback could be that Wilkinson's French club, Toulon, is a possibility to make the final of the French domestic competition on June 1 - the same day the Lions begin their tour. The Lions play the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium on June 18.
Paddles for pedals
SHE rowed for Australia at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, now Canberra's Kerry Knowler has her sights set on the Paralympics in Rio in 2016. Knowler has swapped the paddles (OK, not technically correct) for pedals, teaming with visually impaired athlete Brandie O'Connor to compete in para-cycling. They are waiting nervously to discover whether they have qualified for the 2014 World Para-Championships. The pair won the road race at the national championships, but got a flat tyre in the time trial. Knowler was back in a boat on Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday, however, claiming a silver medal with the ACT women's eight crew at the Australian Masters Rowing Regatta. The event attracted a record 1076 athletes, including 15 Olympians, from Australian, New Zealand and the US.
Good as goals
EVERYONE has a different pre-wedding ritual. For Canberra City goalkeeper James Ward, it involved standing between the posts less than 24 hours before he walked down the aisle. City's National Premier League match with Canberra FC was moved to Friday night to allow Ward and several teammates to take part. Unfortunately they couldn't come up with the fitting result, going down 4-0 to Canberra FC. Still on goalkeepers, Woden Valley was so short they called on 46-year-old president John Helgesen to take the gloves for their NPL 20s team last weekend. Helgesen showed he's still got it, winning the man of the match to lead Woden to victory.
Par for course
CANBERRA golfer Brendan Jones , 38, has openly said he'd like to retire by 40. But maybe he'd like to reconsider after watching 66-year-old Masashi Ozaki's superb first round nine-under 62 at the Japan Tour's Tsuruya Open. Ozaki, known as ''Jumbo'', boasts more Japan Tour titles than any other golfer and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011. ''Shooting my age is not something I try to do,'' Ozaki said. ''But if you can't shoot 6 under or 7 under when you play good golf, you don't belong on the tour.'' For the record, Jones opened with a five-under.