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Indoor cycling

Artistic cyclists counting down to 2015 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships

Wong Chin To (right) wins bronze at 2013 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships
Wong Chin To (right) wins bronze at 2013 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships

The UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships include two of cycling’s most technical disciplines: cycle-ball and artistic cycling. In the week before the 2015 edition in Johor Bahru, Malaysia (November 20-22), we catch up with two artistic cyclists looking to repeat their podium performances of last year.

Wong Chin To, Hong Kong

Traditionally dominated by European nations, artistic cycling is becoming increasingly widespread. In 2013, Hong Kong’s Wong Chin To won bronze in the Single Men’s competition, an achievement he repeated last year, confirming his place on the world stage.

The 22-year-old fully intends gracing the podium again this year, in Johor Bahru.

“My bronze medal in 2013 was the highlight of my sporting career so far because it was a surprise. This achievement motivated me to work harder the following year.

“Of course there is more pressure on me after two bronze medals two years running. I want to get another medal, but I know that other athletes also want that medal and have trained hard, so it won’t be an easy task. And then there are the expectations of others…”

Wong Chin To

Wong Chin To has increased his training in preparation for the Worlds, but believes the key to success lies not only with physical preparation but also mental strength and determination: “You need to have strong willpower to deal with failure. “We have to fail many times and hurt ourselves during training in order to learn a new exercise. My strong point is that I never give up. I try again and again.

“My weakest point is that I feel nervous easily during competition.”

While artistic cycling remains a minority sport in Hong Kong, Wong Chin To says that promotional activities in schools and demonstrations for the public are helping the sport develop.

“We have new blood joining every year and I strongly believe that there are some talented young athletes who can follow in my footsteps or be even better than me in the near future.”

Artistic cycling, ACT4: RV Sirnach, Switzerland

After failing to even qualify for the Worlds in 2013, Céline Burlet, Flavia Zuber, and sisters Melanie and Jennifer Schmid, stole the show the following year in the Czech city of Brno, taking the world title two months after establishing a new world record of 220.70 points.

Aged from 19 to 23, the women’s team from RV Sirnach will compete in Malaysia at the end of next week with all the pressure that goes hand in hand with wearing the rainbow jersey.

“Last year it was easier for us because it was our first UCI World Championships and we had nothing to lose,” points out the elder of the Schmid sisters, Melanie. “As defending champions of course we want gold again.”

The four young women have been a team since 2008. During the competition season, they train together a minimum of four times a week plus weekends: a schedule that they fit in around full time jobs.

2014 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships, Brno, Czech Republic

Melanie Schmid believes their solidarity is one of the keys to their success: “It is very important to communicate openly and hold together even if someone has a bad time or fails an exercise in competition.

“We have been training together for so many years that we know everything about each other. We all have our strengths, weaknesses and fears and we know how to complement each other.

“We know that we are only stronger together. We all live near the training hall and we always train together unless someone is sick or injured. We also take our holidays at the same time.”

While illness hampered progress earlier in the season, the world record holders are back on track and aiming for a gold-medal performance in Johor Bahru. They set their goals together, and cannot envisage a future without continuing artistic cycling together.

“After our competitive career, and we don’t know when that will be, we will do shows together,” concludes Melanie Schmid.

Also read our previous feature on two of cycle-ball’s top athletes, both of whom will be competing in the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships in Johor Bahru in two weeks’ time.

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