Maribyrnong’s Lucas ‘Luke’ Plapp is thirsting for gold after the Australian men’s cycling pursuit team brought home a bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics.
It comes after a snapped handlebar in Australia’s qualifying ride cost the team its chance to compete for gold and left teammate Alex Porter injured.
“We’re still not exactly sure what happened with those handlebars and I guess it’s a bit of an ongoing investigation to find out exactly what did go wrong,” Plapp said.
“It was pretty special for Alex Porter to be able to get back up 10 minutes later and produce a ride that gave us a chance to turn up the next day and hopefully put ourselves in a bronze medal position.
“For him to get back up after that – he was obviously pretty battered and bruised, and I think he was lucky that the race was so soon after and he still had the adrenaline running so that he couldn’t feel the pain that much because he woke up pretty sore the next day.
“It was touch and go whether he was going to ride.
“We gave him every chance to get up and have a crack but he made the call and said, I don’t think I can give you guys 100 per cent and we need four 100-per-cent-guys to be able to win that bronze medal.”
The team of Plapp, Leigh Howard, Kelland O’Brien and Sam Welsford won bronze after New Zealand crashed out of the race.
Plapp said it was “tough” racing against “our closest mates in the world”.
“We knew it was going to be a dog fight,” he said.
“We knew exactly how they race, we knew their ride and what they were going to do, and they knew ours.
“I guess it’s not how you want to come away with the bronze medal at all.
“It was such a great race leading up to then; it was .001 here and there every single lap, and it would have came down in a pretty spectacular finish, I think, in a ride that could have gone down in history.
“But unfortunately, it didn’t go too well for them.”
The Kiwis had led by just 0.048 of a second at the two kilometre halfway mark before rider Aaron Gate touched a teammate’s wheels and crashed.
Plapp said winning his first Olympic medal was “addictive”.
“It’s like a drug in a way, it’s addictive, and I think that as soon as we got off that track … we were all pretty keen for Paris and to go fight for that gold medal,” he said.
“Once you experience the Olympics once, you can’t get enough of it and you want to keep coming back until you achieve that pinnacle.
“You can’t leave this sport until you achieve that pinnacle and I know I’ll definitely be back in Paris, LA or even Brisbane.
“It’s something that all of us boys want to be able to fight for, and bring home that gold medal.”