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Top cycling coach West dies, aged 57

Australian cycling coach Gary West, who memorably guided Anna Meares to Olympic gold in London, has died after battling motor neurone disease

Top cycling coach West dies, aged 57

Australian cycling coach Gary West, who memorably guided Anna Meares to Olympic gold in London, has died after battling motor neurone disease

Gary West, who coached cycling legend Anna Meares to a famous Olympic gold medal, has died aged 57.

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West was diagnosed last year with motor neuron disease.


He became a passionate advocate for the ongoing campaign to support fellow sufferers and find a cure for the fatal illness.

Cycling Australia announced on Sunday that West had died in Adelaide.

After a long career in cycling as a rider and coach, West took over the Australian sprint program in late 2008.

When West took over the program, Meares was one of the world's top track cyclists and had made her gutsy comeback from a neck fracture to win silver at the Beijing Olympics.

But British legend Victoria Pendleton ruled the sprint events and had the better of an epic rivalry with Meares.

So West masterminded Know The Enemy, a project where the Australian team learned as much as they could about Pendleton ahead of the London Olympics.

Men's track sprinter Alex Bird was a key element in the campaign, imitating Pendleton's racing tactics as he went head-to-head with Meares in training sessions.

The project paid huge dividends in London, where Meares beat Pendleton in the sprint final to win her second Olympic gold medal.

West's illness forced him to resign after the Rio Olympics, where Meares won bronze in the keirin.

He was a member of Charlie's Angels, the team pursuit squad at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, but an injury meant he missed out on the quartet that won the gold medal.

West won gold at the 1982 Commonwealth Games and once his racing career ended, he eventually turned to coaching.

After coaching in Japan and the United States, he ran the cycling program at the SA Sports Institute before joining the national squad.

CA said during West's time in charge of the sprint squad, his cyclists won 22 gold medals at the Olympics, world titles and Commonwealth Games and more than 40 medals in all.

But more than the results, West was being remembered on Sunday as a much-loved and respected figure in the sport.

"Gary was a man of utmost integrity," said CA chief executive Nick Green.

"His accolades both on and off the bike as a cyclist and coach are well documented: he was a leader, he was humble and a visionary in all aspects of life and sport."

West is survived by his wife Debbie and their children Michael, Tom and Sally.

It is a tough time for Australian cycling - last week Athens gold medallist Steve Wooldridge died suddenly, aged 39.


AAP



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