Five time Olympian and former Ararat resident Shane Kelly returned to the region, as the world champion cyclist carried the Queen’s Baton for the final part of the Ararat leg on Tuesday.
The dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist said returning to his hometown and being part of the relay is something he will never forget.
“To carry the baton in the final run, and to have my girls join me was pretty emotional,” he said.
To carry the baton in the final run, and to have my girls join me was pretty emotional.Shane Kelly
“It was just a huge honour to be a part of it.”
Kelly competed at two Commonwealth Games, winning the 1000m time trial gold medal in both campaigns.
The 46-year-old said being part of the relay brought back memories of competing at the three games in Canada, Malaysia and Melbourne in 2006.
“My first games was in 1994, so it was a few years ago but the memories did come flooding back,” he said.
“Putting the green and gold on and representing the country is what you dream of as a kid.”
While he won’t be competing on the Gold Coast, Kelly said it was great to be involved in the occasion in a different way by carrying the baton during the relay.
“It is a different feel and different set of emotions for sure,” he said.
“To know how many people have carried the baton and where it has been and where it still has got to go, I think it is the biggest relay so far which is incredible.
“This is certainly something I will be able to tell my children about and share for years to come.”
Kelly lives in Melbourne and has full time work commitments, so does not get back to Ararat often.
He said it was great to catch up with some friends while he was in town.
“I looked out and saw a few school mates, cycling mates and family, it doesn’t happen often that I get back up here, so it has been great to catch up with everyone while i’ve been here,” he said.
Kelly retired from competition following the 2008 Beijing Olympics after competing at five consecutive Olympic Games.
The champion cyclist said he needed a break away from the game following his long career.
“I removed myself from the sport for a while then I felt I needed to get back involved and share the knowledge I have and passion with some of the younger cyclists,” he said.
“The last four years I have been back involved in the sport which has been great.”
Kelly has been working with Victorian Institute of Sport cyclists, including Ararat’s Alice Culling.
He said it has been great to get back involved and working with the next generation of cyclists.
“I have been working at the VIS working with Alice and a few of the other up and coming talent which is a bit of a buzz to see them perform and get the best out of themselves each time,” he said.
“It definitely makes it more special to coach someone who has grown up in the same area.”