SASI cyclists make their move

The 2021/22 South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) cycling squad was recently announced, with 16 sprint and endurance cyclists named for the year ahead.

Oli Bleddyn and Alli Anderson

Selected athletes Oli Bleddyn, Alli Anderson and Dylan Stanton have all relocated to Adelaide to join the program.

Olympic gold medallist Brett Aitken is the SASI Head Cycling Coach and spoke highly of the new squad members.

“Oli Bleddyn has relocated from Perth where he was part of the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) cycling program,” Aitken said.

“He is an extremely talented rider, becoming a priority athlete for us because of how close he is to making it to the next step.

“Oli rode a sub 4:20 individual pursuit at Nationals which is almost unheard of as a first-year elite.

“He is a super exciting athlete who I think we’ll see a lot of in the future.”

Alli Anderson has moved to Adelaide permanently after spending the last 18 months as a SASI athlete training on her own in Alice Springs.

“Alli is a younger cyclist who has had the support of SASI in the past but would only join us in Adelaide for major events,” Aitken explained.

“Having an athlete living outside of a daily training environment required really good communication between coach and athlete.

“We are thrilled to now have Alli here permanently.”

Dylan Stanton has relocated from Whyalla to be a permanent part of the SASI training group and to continue moving up in the cycling world.

“Dylan is a really exciting kid who has come along so quickly in such a short space of time,” Aitken said.

“Within six months he has gone from being an athlete who wasn’t in our program to finishing third in sprints at the National Titles.

“We are really excited about what Dylan brings to our program and what he might be able to do in the future.”

Aitken has been the SASI Head Cycling Coach for more than five years and says it is a challenging yet rewarding role.

“I mainly work in the development space, trying to get athletes into the national program,” the former SASI athlete said.

“I’m working mostly with teenage riders who are showing a lot of promise and heading up the cycling pathway and hopefully heading up quickly.”

For Alli Anderson in particular, her journey as a rising star has come a long way since she started cycling as a young girl in a youth program called ‘Dusty Demons’ in Alice Springs.

“Funnily enough I was terrible at cycling back then, but here I am today still riding a bike and enjoying it all the same,” Anderson said.

“I love being on a bike and going fast and feeling like in that moment there is nothing else I have to worry about.”

The 17-year-old only recently made the permanent move to Adelaide and is still adjusting to things like traffic.

“It is very different living in a city compared to what I’m used to, but so far it is going well.

“Being in Adelaide where I can focus on my riding is great and I am excited to see what I can achieve with SASI.”

When Anderson was younger, being a part of SASI was all she envisioned herself doing in the future, so now she is relishing the opportunity and the support that comes with it.

“I thought this was as far as I would make it in my career so it is exciting making new goals and seeing what I can achieve.

“The support I have received has been incredible.

“I could not have asked for anything more of the coaches and staff who are all so involved and dedicated.

“I am so grateful for all they have done for me in the short time I have been with them.”

Anderson’s proudest achievement so far in her career is winning the Madison and Team Pursuit at the Track Nationals in December last year.

The SASI athlete is now hoping to achieve some bigger goals, including representing Australia on the world’s biggest stages.

“I definitely want to represent my country at the World Championships or the Olympics and being a part of SASI is the best way for me to achieve that.”

Dylan Stanton also found his passion for cycling in his hometown, when he started racing at the Whyalla Velodrome when he was just eight years old, and he loved every second of it.

“I love the speed and adrenaline rush you get while racing,” said Stanton.

The 17-year-old specialises in sprint events and recently came third in the match sprints at the 2021 National Titles and won gold for the second time in the team sprint.

Ever since Stanton was little, he has looked up to Australian sprint cyclist, World Championships gold medallist and SASI graduate Matthew Glaetzer.

“I have always loved watching Matty on TV and since moving to Adelaide it has been awesome to watch him race and train in person.”

Stanton struggled at first to settle into Adelaide after his move from Whyalla but says cycling has helped with the transition.

“Moving from a small town with 20,000 people to a city with 1.3 million people was huge.

“Cycling has helped me gain more confidence and I am now comfortable with the change.”

Stanton spoke very highly of his time so far with SASI, crediting their professionalism.

“SASI has been great - I am really enjoying being part of the program.

“They have been doing everything they can to help settle me in, as well as teach me new ways to become a better athlete.

“Since racing as a junior, I have watched so many strong and successful SASI athletes and I knew I wanted to be just like them.”

Stanton’s ultimate goal is to race against the world’s best cyclists at the World Championships and Olympic Games.

While both Stanton and Anderson had high praise for the dedication of the SASI coaches and staff, Head Coach Aitken gives much of the credit to his cyclists.

“It’s quite amazing what we put our young athletes through,” the former Olympic gold medallist said.

“To be the best you have to put in a lot of hours.

“Even our teenage athletes do up to 20 hours of training a week.

“To fit that around schooling and other commitments makes cycling a massively demanding sport.”

Training is not the only support the athletes are offered at SASI, as they are also given access to experts in various areas.

“We’ve got a range of support through what we do here at SASI in terms of resources,” Aitken said.

“Schooling has been one of the big things for athletes such as Alli and Dylan who are still at school.

“Athlete Careers and Transition Lead Mark Gregory has played a huge role in terms of our athletes’ future careers and education.

“There is also psychology, nutrition and physiology support, where each play a huge role in the relocation of athletes and means they’re not doing it alone.”

For athletes such as Oli Bleddyn, Alli Anderson and Dylan Stanton, relocating to Adelaide is a life-changing move.

SASI continues to provide the support and training necessary to help make the transition more comfortable for their athletes.