Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Which license is it today????

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!


Leanne said...

I had the same discussion with someone when the state team was announced, the response I was told was that, the women didn't get qualifying times in the states, and CSV weren't prepared to spend money to send them to Sydney when they didn't have a hope. Also, some of those that did do a good qualifying time now race for another country. So I think CSV were stuck.
Though I do agree with everything you are saying. Women's cycling sucks. They often get less prize money, even if they numbers are the same. That difference can be huge, for a junior event recently, the boys got over $100 for winning, might have been 150, can't remember now, and for the girls in the same type of event, the winner got $30. Only one or two riders difference, and if they prize money for the girls had have been better they probably would have had more girls. I know of at least girl who didn't go because it wasn't worth it.

Anonymous said...

Girls haven't you learnt yet it is a "boy's club". Vic cycling has never shown as respect/sense for lady cyclist's unless there is something in it for them. Been like this for that many years, the boys are too scared of change!

Jess Laws said...

I agree there is no transparency. In trying to find qualification times for nationals and who the selctors were for the 2010-11 season, nothing had been gazetted on the the CSV website/minutes of meetings etc. I nave no doubt that it is a who you know process. I cant believe that I was the only elite woman selected - especially as we pay our own way.....sometimes you have to fight for your right to ride!
I too am confused as to how the Masters awards are figured out, but I do know that if you hold an elite licence and are in a masters age-group, you can nominate which category you wish to ride in upon entering an event which offers both.
On a personal note, I am trying to acheive personal goals, and this in itself is a struggle when you are a wife, a mother and an employee, however I enjoy the challenges. I was awarded Masters Cyclist of the year for the 09-10 season where I did ride as a masters cyclist at the world champs and nationals and I managed to obtain a worlds best time, so perhaps that facilitated my award?
I only hope that the selection of only one elite female rider for this years nationals (note I am am not in any special squad or institute of sport) does not stop any hopeful woman of any age from attempting to achieve their goals!

Kevin Laws said...

I agree with most that you say. The sport is a closed shop at all levels and the lack of transperency is shocking.
For your info Jess raced on a Masters licence in 2009 until the world masters titles when she transferred to an elite licence. The award she was recently awarded was actually for the season prior but because no one bought tickets to the prize giving it was postponed for 9 months. But honestly jess thought she was a better bet at Victorian Masters Cyclist of the Year the year prior. That year she won 4 Victorian Titles, 3 Australian Titles, Australian Masters Champion of Champion, 3 World Titles and 1 World Best time in the 500m. She was beaten by Megan Marsh which was fine but only after the event did Jess even find out she was nominated.
The Nationals selection is worrying. I do not see how they encourage entry in VIC titles if the top finishing Vic registered riders are not selected. The arguement about spent CSV money on athletes who are not competitive is a joke as Jess received nothing. We paid for her own accomodation, own food, own skinsuit and uniform.We also had to pay a levy to subsidise the tem officials. As the only non NTID/ VIS athlete in the team her support was non existant (she even raced the Kierin with a flat tire! which I discovered latter). All the coaches and officals seemed to be looking after their own areas rather than team Victoria. Jess could not even find out if she was riding the team sprint until late the night before the event.
But having seen the Aust team selected for the world champs this week it seems to happen at next level up. I (and Jess ) really appreciate your comments. She had a really tough year with all the changes in squad to allow the World Cup dream to be realised and really appreciates those few people like Helen and Bob Kelly, yourself and some of the other athletes who supported her through this year. End of the day it is only a bike race and the journey is the challenge.
PS She is not allowed now to compete in World Masters for 2 years after she stops racing World Cups so this problem should not happen next year

Anonymous said...

let it go about the licences. elite and masters are not mutually exclusive and you can hold both. Its about what racing you do - and you get a licence to allow you to race - not so you can get an award in a certain category.
Well done Jess - keep on racing - wherever and whenevr you can - elite and masters if you want!

Lawrence said...

Hey Anonymous

do you know what the date is??? You're a bit late, this is last month's news.

And.. it's about transparency of process, not licenses per se. Perhaps a reread might help you?

PS am a bit over the anonymouses. Get a name!