THE courage of Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares has inspired Warwick State High School student Elsie van Hoof who has overcome adversity to represent Queensland in the nationals which start tomorrow on Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney.
Thirteen months ago, Elsie had a serious fall in the National Junior Track Series round in Adelaide where she suffered concussion and two broken fingers.
After a month off the bike, she returned to training to compete in all four rounds of the next National Junior Track Series in Sydney, Melbourne, Launceston and Adelaide.
At the end of the series, she was 10th overall in a field of 49 in the under-17 women's category.
She won three Cyclone Sprints, an event where eight riders start side-by-side.
One of her aims this year is to make a Queensland team and that will be realised when she competes this week on a track used for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
"I am way better on the track than road," Elsie said.
She trains twice a week on the Warwick Velodrome and undertakes one session a week with the Bikeline Racing club from Toowoomba and also trains in Brisbane.
As she dreams of representing Australia in the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in 2018, Elsie is inspired by the story of Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares who has recovered from many injuries.
"Her older sister Kerrie was a rival and better but Anna never gave up and finally overtook her," Elsie said.
"Anna was at the meet in Adelaide when I was injured and remembered me 12 months later. I have managed to contact her on Facebook."
The Meares sisters grew up in Rockhampton and now Elsie is competing against the Tucker sisters from Rockhampton, daughters of world championship and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kenrick Tucker.
"I am really good friends with the Tucker sisters, I beat both of them in individual races in the National Track Series," she said.
"Competing against them makes you define your limit and train harder."
In a couple of races, it was Brooke Tucker first, Elsie from Warwick second and Lara Tucker third.
Nationals in Sydney
Tomorrow to Saturday
500m Individual time trial
15km Points race
Team sprint (two riders) Elsie in combination with Kristina Clonen