BATHURST’S Emilie Miller will get the chance to tackle the roads of South Africa this August after being selected in the Australian team to contest the 2017 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships.
Miller’s selection in the 15-rider team marks her return to the national ranks after she previously represented Australia at the 2015 world cup and world championships.
In that national Para-cycling debut, she won a pair of gold medals in a round of the World Cup in Elzach, Germany – for the road race and time trial – then went on to compete at the world championships in Nottwil, Switzerland.
Since then she has only improved.
“It’s obviously hard when you’ve had 12 months out of the team, my event wasn’t on the program for Rio [Paralympic Games],” Miller said.
“It’s really motivating when you go over, but also when you come back, because you know the things that you have to work on over the next 12 months.
“I think in terms of personal growth, I’ve probably matured a bit as an athlete and I understand a bit more about what I’m doing and why I’m doing things at training. I’ve definitely got a lot faster and a lot stronger and I’m probably paying more attention to the smaller details.
“I am very excited, I just have to get ready now.”
Miller’s selection came after strong performances at both the Australia road titles – where she was crowned national champion in her category for the road race and time trial – and the national series rounds at Canberra and Melbourne.
At those events she was the only female handcycle racer in her category and as such, competed alongside men.
But racing on the world level offers Miller the chance to race against females. It is a prospect which excites her.
“There’s actually a female who raced at the World Cup in Italy, so I’m pretty excited about that. There are a few [females] popping up around the world now,” Miller said.
“The thing about those lower classifications is that countries are really trying to grow the numbers in those bottom classifications, but if there’s not the numbers out there to race they often don’t go, or if they think the courses are too hard they don’t go.
“I guess that is where I’ve got to be pretty thankful to Cycling Australia for taking the chance on me. It’s not going to grow if people don’t take their athletes. They don’t want to take their athletes because they think the courses are too hard, but if you don’t take them, it’s never going to get any better.
“I’m hoping that we should be able to have a couple of females over there at worlds, it will be interesting to race against girls instead of boys for a change.”
Just as Miller is thankful for Cycling Australia giving her the chance to race at the world titles, which commence on August 31, she said the support she has gotten from the Western Region Academy of Sport and Bathurst Cycling Club has been beneficial too.
“It’s really encouraging when you put so much time and effort and work into it and also for people like Toireasa Gallagher and the trainers up at D2F, they’re putting in the time as well. It shows I’m pushing in the right direction, I’m improving and things are paying off,” she said.