Why masters matter
For the future of sprint cycling, we need to get masters sprinting
When I was a little kid, my dad told me about when he swam (he was very good, broke Australian records, swam world-class times) and played rugby. These things had a lasting impression on me. I swam as a kid, and played rugby (union, of course ... real rugby!), from pretty-much as soon as I could. What our parents do, sports-wise, many of us follow. For example, Shane Perkins, current world champion in the keirin, his father raced track and was no bunny. Shane is by no means an isolated example. Most of the sprinters we see have been inspired to race by their parents.
Not all of them, of course, follow in their parents footsteps so if that was all we relied on for new blood, eventually the pool would run dry. How do we find new juniors who want to sprint? One way is to get parents to have a go. A recent example is Emily Apolito, her dad took up track cycling as a master when she was around 9 or 10 years old, she saw how much he enjoyed it and she gave it a go and is now a very promising junior track sprinter. Think also of Will and Bridge Thomas, inspired by their father, I can go on, there are many juniors who started up after their parents had a go, who's parents maybe weren't Olympians like Daryl Perkins, maybe they started later in life but they found that they loved it and their enthusiasm rubbed off onto their kids.
So masters matter, not just because they make good guineapigs for coaches to test new methods on(!) but also because they bring with them their families, who grow the sport as juniors, starting off at ages young enough that their potential can be realised. Masters are in it for fun, but they bring so much more than just an entry fee to a race. We must encourage and support them.