New Zealand cycling bosses have lauded the contribution of two-time World Champion Alison Shanks who announced her retirement from the sport today.
BikeNZ High Performance Director, Mark Elliott said that Shanks had made a tough call but it was typical of her attitude that she did not want to continue in the sport unless she could be the best in the world.
“Since Sarah Ulmer, our ranks in terms of female endurance track riders have been quite thin. Ali took up that challenge in terms of individual pursuit, coming into the sport late, and her results speak for themselves,” Elliott said.
“She achieved world titles and a Commonwealth Games gold medal on the back of complete dedication and a single-minded attitude to be the best she could be.
“When the women’s team pursuit was brought in to the Olympic programme instead of the individual pursuit, Alison put her personal disappointed behind her and played a key role in that campaign leading up to the London. While they did not get the medal they were chasing, their hard work and commitment could not be faulted.
“Alison battled with the hip injury and since her surgery she has done everything possible to get herself back. Her decision today is a testament to her uncompromising attitude.
Elliott said that Shanks is gifted in many skills off the bike and hopes she can continue to play a significant role in the sport in the future, especially now she has moved to Cambridge with her husband Craig Palmer, who is a sports scientist for BikeNZ.
STATEMENT FROM ALISON SHANKS
Double world champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Alison Shanks has today announced she is to retire from cycling.
The 31 year old, who has battled back from injury and hip surgery over the past two years, has decided the time is right to finish her competitive cycling career.
Shanks, who managed her injury throughout her 2012 Olympic campaign, had surgery last year with the intent of returning for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year and the Olympics in Rio in 2016.
However she says that she can no longer manage the physical and mental demands to get back to the top of her sport.
“I have been playing sport my entire life and have had an incredible journey. I have cherished every single part of it - the hard work, the training, the people, the travel, the failures and obviously the successes. I love representing my family, Otago and my country,” Shanks said.
“I have a real passion for what I do and have always committed 100 percent but I have to listen to my body when enough is enough.
“If I can’t do something 100 percent physically and mentally then it’s time to find a new challenge and start a new adventure.
“I can’t keep pushing at the level that I need and want to in order to achieve the results that will make my country, my family and my friends and most importantly myself, proud.”
Shanks said that her hip is improving and she believes she could win a spot in the team for Glasgow, but does not want to just attend if she cannot be at the level to win a gold medal again.
“I have been out of competition for so long now. I have been working hard but the spark and passion that drives me is not there. The way I work with my husband and coach Craig, we are not willing to do something unless we can do it to the absolute best that I can be.
“It has been tough to let go but I know this decision to retire from cycling is right one and I will step away satisfied and proud of what I have achieved with the help of a massive support team including HPSNZ, BikeNZ and my team of sponsors
“I am disappointed that I won't race on the new Avantidrome in Cambridge but there will always be ‘another race’ as the cycling world carries on but in every athlete’s career there has to be one final finish line and I’ve reached mine.”
Shanks said that she remains passionate about the sport and about her future, working with her sponsors and other commercial opportunities.
“I’m excited about the new pathways that lie ahead and it’s now time to transfer all my drive and energy into a new passion and put my marketing and nutrition degrees to use.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to extend work with my sponsors Volkswagen and Avanti as well as continuing my role as an Olympic Ambassador with the NZOC.
“Craig and I are about to start building our house with Urban Homes in the Waikato which is a really exciting time. And of course as BikeNZ steps into a new era with the new Avantidrome Home of Cycling in Cambridge and I hope to stay involved in the sport that has given me so much.”
PLEASE NOTE: Alison will be working with the NZOC Olympic Ambassador programme at Ngatea Primary School on Friday from 9am until 10.30 which you are invited to attend. Alison will be available for interviews from 10.30 to 11.30 before she moves on to nearby Kaihere Primary School from 12 noon to 1.30pm.
UCI World Champion – 3000m Individual Pursuit, Melbourne (2012), Poland (2009)
Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist – 3000m Individual Pursuit, New Delhi (2010).
Olympic Games - Individual Pursuit (2008 Beijing - 4th), Team Pursuit (2012 London 5th).
NZ 3000m Individual Pursuit – 3.28.475, Oceania Champs, Invercargill, November 2011
NZ 3000, Team Pursuit – 3:19.759, Oceania Champs, Invercargill, November 2011
3000m Individual Pursuit
2006 Bordeaux, France 8th
2007 Mallorca,Spain 7th
2008 Manchester, England 6th
2009 Pruskow,Poland 1st
2010 Copenhagen, Denmark 4th
2011 Apeldoorn, Holland 2nd
2012 Melbourne, Australia 1st
3000m Team Pursuit
2009 Poland 2nd
2011 Apeldoorn 3rd
2012 Melbourne 4th
World Cup - Individual Pursuit
2009 Melbourne 2nd
2010 Melbourne 1st
2010 Beijing 1st
2011 Beijing 1st
World Cup – Team Pursuit
2010 Melbourne 1st
2010 Beijing 2nd
2011 Manchester 2nd
2011 Cali 2nd