Gavel / Determined to get back from the brink

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WHAT must have been going through the minds of Canberra cyclist Chloe Hosking and fellow ACT athlete and Australian hockey goalkeeper Andrew Charter as they sat together on the tram at the end of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast?

Tim Gavel.

I am predicting a sense of satisfaction given the battles both encountered on their way to winning gold medals.

Seven months ago, Chloe was left out of the Australian team for last year’s World Road Cycling Championships in Norway. She fought selectors for the right to compete and eventually won a place in the Australian team. This was the team that helped Katrin Garfoot win a silver medal in the road race. Then there was a crash in the Tour of Flanders in Belgium, which left Chloe in hospital.

Her response after winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal in the road race reflected the journey she had encountered with the biggest motivator being her omission from the world championship team.

”I was literally told that I wasn’t good enough. I said: ‘Well, I think I am good enough’,” she said.

Cyclist Chloe Hosking… I said: “Well, I think I am good enough.”

“I thought: ‘What do I need to do to show them?’ I worked really hard in the off-season and I did a lot of things to improve and I am sure I am getting better. But winning the gold medal is a sign that I am on the right track.”

So what was the response from the selectors after she won gold on the Gold Coast?

“I am a big believer in feedback, they said to me that I did everything right, which is a bit frustrating in itself because I want to learn and it’s hard when they say you did everything right,” she said.

“What do I learn from this? I guess it’s just to keep doing everything that I have been doing.”

Road cycling can appear at times a solitary sport, but the reality is that teamwork plays a vital role. In recognition, Chloe had the names of the Australian team engraved on her gold medal.

Goalkeeper Andrew Charter… “I was told it was a bit of a shot across my bow.”

For Andrew, the message from the selectors last year was just as blunt. He was dropped from the Australian hockey team for the World League finals in India in December and it looked like his dream of competing at a home Commonwealth Games had disappeared.

“I was told it was a bit of a shot across my bow, to stop cruising,” he said.

“Tyler Lovell and Tristan Clemons were very good and I was told I wasn’t that far ahead.”

He had two options; drop his bundle or, like Chloe, fight to win back his place.

It is a sign of his character that he chose to use his omission as a motivation, picking up his training levels to a new height.

“I thought being dropped was unwarranted at the time, but on reflection, I think they were probably a little bit on the mark and I think it reignited me for the next couple of months leading into the Commonwealth Games selection and obviously the competition,” he said.

If road cycling looks lonely, spare a thought for the hockey goalkeeper in the world’s number one ranked team. Expectations are high as you prepare to stare down a penalty stroke or a penalty corner. Self-analysis probably doesn’t begin to describe it.

Andrew has shown time and time again his mental strength.

Both Chloe and Andrew will face challenges in the foreseeable future. Chloe is without a contract for next season while Andrew has told the coaches and the selectors he is keen to make the Australian team for the Tokyo Olympics in two years. The struggles they faced in the past 12 months will have prepared them for any hurdles that lay ahead.

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Tim Gavel
Journalist and ABC sports broadcaster

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