ARARAT - Ararat's Alice Culling showed nerves of steel and stood up when it mattered most at last week's Cycling Australia Junior Track National Championships in Sydney.
Twice the Ararat teenager smashed her personal best time to claim the biggest win in her short track cycling career a bronze medal in the junior women under-15 2000-metre individual pursuit.
The 15-year-old rounded out an all-Victorian podium after defeating Queensland's Alexandra Martin-Wallace in the bronze medal final.
Culling's father, Harold said it was a hotly contested qualifying round at the Dunc Gray Velodrome.
"Alice was the fourth rider to go (out of 19) and she rode so well and actually took six and a half seconds off her personal best, which is an unbelievable improvement when you think about it," he said.
"It was a nervous wait then while she sat and watched the other riders finish. She was sitting in first position for a long time and just got pipped at the end."
The event saw the top two riders race for gold, while third and fourth fastest competed for bronze.
Culling, just .46 of a second off the gold medal race, finished the qualification round in third position and progressed through to vie for bronze.
"She finished up in the ride off for bronze and you only get one shot at that so she just gave it her all," Mr Culling said.
"She ended up with a faster time again (by .725 of a second on the qualifying round) to win the medal."
Culling also competed in three other events the time trial (500m), under-15 sprint (200m) and 30-lap points race during the four days of competition. She placed in the top eight of each event.
Mr Culling said the 2000-metre race was definitely his daughter's strongest.
"It was probably her best event heading into the nationals, but to take six and a half seconds off your best time, the Victorian coaches and coordinators can't believe what she did," he said.
"Laurie Norris (Cycling Victoria chairman of selectors) said to me that she completely exceeded his expectations and they were just rapt with her.
"In the points race, which is 30 laps, she was a guard rider for the two girls that ended up winning gold and silver.
"It is an individual race, but you also work together, I actually think Alice did more work than the two that finished first and second, she set a very good pace, but it is all tactical.
"She was just so thrilled with how the whole event went. She was just happy to be riding at the nationals, but to qualify where she did and then go on and win a medal we were all ecstatic."
Culling was part of a strong and professional Victorian team which went on to top the championships and win the Ray Godkin Shield.
Mr Culling said the Ararat cyclist had been hard at work training at the DISC Velodrome in Melbourne in the lead up to the Australian event.
"Her performance here I hope can open doors next year into the Victorian under-17 track team," he said.
"It is a big step up, a big gearing change in the under 17s, but she will be strong enough to handle it. They (the Victorian coaches) will be keeping an eye on her and they've already sent through a training program for the track, so she'll be working hard.
"It has just been a wild four months. She only first started really riding boards in November, we held her back because there is a lot of travelling involved and it can be too much too early, but she has come so far already we are all so proud."
With the Cycling Australia Junior Track National Championships marking the end of the track season, Culling will now focus her attentions on road racing.