BATHURST handcyclist Emilie Miller was the star of the Australian team last week when earning a pair of coveted rainbow jerseys at the 2018 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Maniago, Italy.
As the sole competitor in her women’s H1 classification, Miller won both her time trial and road race at the championships.
But unlike 12 months earlier when doing the same on gruelling courses in South Africa, this time the UCI recognised Miller’s efforts with both gold medals and the renowned rainbow jersey of a cycling world champion.
They were two of the three gold medals the Australian team won.
“I don’t think it has sunk in yet, it’s a humbling experience. It felt amazing to pull on the rainbow jersey and I was thrilled to see the hard training paying off,” Miller said.
“I felt it was my best race on an international stage so far. I felt I rode a very good race technically by choosing good lines, and I surprised myself with how strong I was on the climbs and had a strong, fast finish to the race.”
Though Miller was the only H1 female who attended the titles, her Bathurst coach Toireasa Gallagher explained her efforts in becoming a dual World Champion were remarkable.
She averaged just under 14km/hr in both her events, clocking 58 minutes, 15.25 seconds for the 13.6km time trial and one hour, 46 seconds for the 27.2km road race.
“She is still the only competitor, but at least now they are saying ‘Right, we’ll put the championship on, if only one comes, they still deserve a medal for coming and working hard’,” Gallagher said.
“The good thing about what Emilie has done, she’s improved exponentially, out of sight, for the last year. As far as her personal best is going, that has just shot through the roof.
“I’ve said it before, she’s the pioneer for her category. She’s not giving up, the Australian team is not giving on making her category become a bigger thing.
“There still are other women in the world who compete in her category, but their countries aren’t taking them to these championships because, admittedly, the courses are too hard. They still don’t factor in the ability of H1 women.”
Gallagher said that while Miller enjoyed racing in Italy – something she had long dreamed of – she did have a moment of frustration.
“She did say before she went into the time trial that she was a bit angry, she was the only one there, so she was annoyed, but she wanted to prove how well she could go. So that bit of aggro got her a good time,” she said.
“[But] She said she doesn't want to come home, I warned her about that before she left. After two days she was like 'Pack my house up Mum, I'm staying,” she added with a laugh.
While other H1 women were not given the support of their country to compete, Miller praised Cycling Australia for giving her the opportunity.
“I am very proud to be the only woman in my class at this World Championships,” she said. “Other countries have riders in this class, and they haven’t brought them to compete, so I’m grateful for the support that Cycling Australia has given me to be able to represent my country.”