The Victorian Female Masters Cyclist of the Year has just raced World Cup in Manchester this last week.
Jess Laws is living the dream, and all kudos to her for putting it on the line, stepping up to her goals, dreams and ambitions and doing what most of us just fantasize about while at our work computers. This post is not about Jess, but about process, and those who govern our sport, and transparency.
The selection process for Victorian Cyclist of the Year is usually straight forward. A selection panel composed of a number in the know would count how many wins/placingss Victorian cyclists in each category (JW/JM/EW/EM/MW/MM) had in a designated time frame, within the state for road, and for track. Apparently World events used not to count (although Steve Sansonetti won Male Master a few years back based solely on his World Masters Track Champ wins, because he didn’t win or beat any other male masters athletes at the local opens). Nationals are contentious but are sometimes included. It is assumed that eligibility for each category is dependent on the license held by the cyclist. Ie a master’s licensed cyclist is not eligible to be considered for the elite category, even if they race elite at some events.
So this begs the following questions in regard to selection of Vic Cyclist of the Year:
1. Who is on the selection panel?
2. What criteria are used? Ie what events, results etc?
3. Is each category governed by license type? Masters can change categories once during the year – how does that impact their eligibility for a category? Are they eligible for both categories in which they raced then? If so, is that fair and reasonable?
I suspect the recent selections were without clear criteria, which resulted in Jess’s award. If Jess is on an elite license (and I would gather this is the case, considering the international and national events she raced in 2010) then the criteria used for her selection should also apply to the likes of Helen Kelly etc. It certainly makes a bit of a mockery of Cyclist of the Year award in the masters’ category.
Lack of clear and transparent process results in a situation that leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths, and in the current climate of women’s cycling being slapped around the face with a dead fish, it does nothing to engender faith and confidence by female cyclists in our state sporting organisation. Add to this the fact that only ONE elite woman was selected for the Victorian track team to race elite nationals (the same woman who was Masters Cyclist of the Year), it says a lot about the approach CSV has to women’s racing, and team selection. Why would women train hard, spend hours of time, energy and money competing when they know they have very little chance of being recognised for their efforts (via Cyclist of the Year) in their respective categories, let alone being selected to represent the state to compete at nationals (despite any wins/placings at state titles, and major open events). Better off riding down Beach Road for a coffee, or even yet, doing CSV’s rec rides!