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Wooldridge a cyclist who gave everything

Former Australian cycling coach Ian McKenzie has spoken of his respect for Steve Wooldridge, who died earlier this week.

Wooldridge a cyclist who gave everything

Former Australian cycling coach Ian McKenzie has spoken of his respect for Steve Wooldridge, who died earlier this week.

Steve Wooldridge was the sort of teammate who kept everyone else honest.

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Not the most talented, not a high-profile star, but Wooldridge was a coach's dream for his work ethic, honesty and decency.


Ian McKenzie coached Wooldridge to four world titles and an Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit.

The former Australian men's track endurance coach has spoken of his grief at the news of Wooldridge's sudden death earlier this week, aged 39, and the admiration he will always have for him.

"Just disbelief, sadness - just my thoughts of what he must have been going through, his anguish, to lead him to do something like that," McKenzie said

"Then I went back to memories - all the championships and everything we went through together."

McKenzie never had to have a stern word with Wooldridge about his attitude.

But there were still one or two tough conversations - none more so than at the Athens Olympics.

The night before Australia broke the team pursuit world record and won the gold medal, McKenzie finalised the quartet.

Wooldridge and Pete Dawson, members of the team that won the world record earlier that year, had ridden in the qualifying round.

While they were awarded gold medals, they did not make the cut for the final.

"Probably the hardest conversations I've had with cyclists was the night before the final in Athens," McKenzie said.

"I had to speak with Steve and Peter and let them know.

"They were devastated, but they came to the track and supported the other four guys - it was just the character of Steve and Peter."

McKenzie was the Australian team pursuit coach for all of Wooldridge's four world titles.

"He's one of the nicest riders I've dealt with - just a genuine person," McKenzie said.

"He always gave 100 per cent and never had any excuses.

"He realised that he wasn't the best, realised he wasn't first or second picked in the team - he was always scrambling to get that third or fourth position."

While Wooldridge knew his limitations, that did not limit his ambitions.

"The first and second pick always had to be at their best to keep Steve Wooldridge out," McKenzie said.

"Some of the stars quite often rely on their reputation and natural ability - they turn it on when they need to.

"Someone like Steve didn't have the natural ability of the others on tap - he had to turn it on every day."

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.

Local Aboriginal Medical Service details available from www.bettertoknow.org.au/AMS


AAP



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