Taylah Jennings reigning Australian Omnium Champion.
Taylah Jennings reigning Australian Omnium Champion. Sharyn Oneill

Taylah's on track to chase Anna

TAYLAH Jennings gears up to follow in the footsteps of Rockhampton's golden girl Anna Meares.

Jennings, 17, has earned the title of the 2011 Australian Omnium Champion held in Melbourne last week.

The young speedster was invited to stay on the track an extra day to compete in the Melbourne Cup on wheels where she claimed a bronze medal as well as the title of Victorian Open Track Champion.

"I never expected to win this last year let alone this year, but we have such a good track here in Australia, it was definitely a huge achievement for me," Jennings said.

"I wasn't really thinking the second race, but luckily I had good legs which gave me my quick times," she said.

"It was so exciting crossing the finishing line knowing I had won and the time I did was a lot faster than what I was expecting, I was just over the moon."

The Australian Omnium Championships ran over two days, with Jennings giving everything she had left over the six rounds.

"I basically passed out in the individual shoot, I had left everything out on the track, I just knew I had to give 100%," Jennings said.

She then went on to compete in yet another day filled with racing, having nothing left by the elimination race.

"I was really disappointed in myself,'' Jennings said.

"I knew I could have done a lot better, but my head just wasn't in it. I just relaxed after doing well in my first race."

Jennings started racing at age 11 with the dream of making it to both track and road worlds.

Proud mother Michelle Jennings said her daughter's dream of standing on the podium at the Olympics is at this stage looking very promising.

Michelle said Taylah is always a pleasure to watch.

"She is always great to watch when she is switched on, but I'm of course biased and very proud," Michelle said.

The young cyclist was under a lot of pressure after she won the world title in Russia earlier this year.

"She was placed under a lot of pressure being the current world champion, and she was going in disadvantaged wearing the world champ colour," Michelle said.

Jennings suffered from facial injuries, cuts, bruises, a concussion and a mis-diagnosed broken arm after she came off her bike during a training run with her QAS team-mates.

"The coaches reinforced how very, very lucky she was," Michelle said.

"She spent a good week-and-a-half off the bike, so she was nowhere near as prepared as she should have been, but still she managed to take out the title which was pretty damn cool," proud mother, Michelle said.

Yeppoon's Alex O'Dea joined fellow Rockhampton Cycling Club rider Jennings on the start line for the Australian Omnium Championships at Melbourne's DISC Velodrome.

O'Dea had her wheels in motion right throughout last week's championships, coming a well-deserved fourth overall.

Both O'Dea and Jennings are set to continue training over the Christmas break in preparation for the 2012 Brisbane State Titles, beginning on January 4.

The Rockhampton duo will then match-up in Adelaide on January 26 and compete for the National title.

The young sportswomen recently graduated with Taylah Jennings finishing school at Rockhampton State High School and Alex O'Dea at Yeppoon State High School, and now 2012 will be their year of cycling.

With a busy year ahead Jennings is set to defend her Omnium Championships title in New Zealand next August.



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