Top coach’s Olympic call might be on the money

ROAD TO SUCCESS: Kristina Clonan powers to victory in the junior event at the Oceania Road Cycling Championships in Toowoomba yesterday.
ROAD TO SUCCESS: Kristina Clonan powers to victory in the junior event at the Oceania Road Cycling Championships in Toowoomba yesterday. PHOTO BRUCE J WILSON

QUEENSLAND Academy of Sport senior coach Nick Formosa knew Kristina Clonan would represent Australia before Clonan knew she was a cyclist.

The Matthew Flinders Anglican College student was a gun 400m runner under Sunshine Coast Olympian Denise Boyd before switching to cycling and becoming one of Australia's top under-19 prospects.

"We identified her from athletics, but she was just transitioning from running to cycling," Formosa said yesterday.

"At the time I thought she would represent Australia at the World Championships and the Olympics and I still believe that today."

Three years after getting on a bike for a cross-training exercise, Clonan has become a dominant force in the country's junior cycling scene.

"I had to choose between swimming and cycling for cross-training," she said yesterday.

"I didn't really like the idea of looking at the black line so I decided to do cycling."

Merv McDonald, her first cycling coach, put the hills near Clonan's home in Buderim to good use, building the youngster's strength and endurance with intense training sessions.

"She's got that competitiveness about her," Formosa said.

"Her background in athletics gives her a pretty good base and has transferred well to cycling, but the big thing is that competitiveness.

"It's big in all sports, but it's especially big in cycling, where we perform at a really high level on the world scene."

After missing out on a medal at her first national championships, Clonan quickly caught on, winning the national under-17 title last year.

Stepping up to under-19s, the 16-year-old has wasted no time making her mark.

After returning from the national track championships with a silver and bronze, she dominated the Oceania Road Cycling Championships in Toowoomba yesterday.

"I actually think she's more suited to track cycling, but her performance today showed she could potentially represent Australia on the road as well," Formosa said.

Clonan beat a strong field in the junior event, included Anna-Leeza Hull, who made the Australian under-19 team in her first year of eligibility.

"I've sat down with my coach and that's the goal - to represent Australia," Clonan said.

Topics:  matthew flinders anglican college olympics

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