The strength of Australia's Olympic track cycling team is not reflected in the names that will be going to London, impressive as they are, but rather those that won't writes Al Hinds.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

The depth of the greater squad, which will see a host of former track world champions not in the final team, demonstrates the huge transformation Australia has undergone since the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Then - High Performance Director Shayne Bannan was caught between a rock and a hard place assembling his Olympic track team - with a huge gulf between expectations, and available talent.

The endurance squads for both men and women were approaching their twilights, with the likes of Graeme Brown and Luke Roberts presences in the team a throwback to Australia's strong showing at Athens 2004.

The problem then was that the renewal phase the team has now completed, was only just beginning, and that left no real wriggle room for Bannan to tinker with. The team he picked then was the best he could pick.

It took the shock of just one medal, silver through the indefatigable Anna Meares, to shock Australia's track programme back into overdrive.

Fast forward four years, and Kevin Tabotta has had the luxury of assembling a squad that lays aside strong medal chances in their own right, for his ominous-looking A-Team.

Of the women, think Kate Bates, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Sarah Kent. The three can count themselves unlucky to be Australian, considering their calibre, and previous histories on the track.

All three have been previous world champions, and all three (*Bates retired) bowed out of the race for a coveted position on the Olympic team as other contenders arose.

Ankudinoff's story is particularly hard to swallow, seemingly a surety to contend the Games just 24 months ago, injury saw her sidelined from the boards while she recovered and in the same time span she was able to turn things around, selectors had forged a different combination for her signature event, the team pursuit.

But that there are stories of heartbreak shows the health of the squad today.

As in the men, Leigh Howard, Cameron Meyer, Luke Durbridge and Michael Freiberg were all incredibly unlucky to get chopped.

Freiberg was defending world omnium champion when he missed out on even being selected for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne to a resurgent Glenn O'Shea.

What of leaving Meyer and Durbridge out of the team? World class athletes, that are set for burgeoning road careers, Tabotta told both they couldn't cut the mustard for the Olympics.

The team selected is the strongest Australia could put together. Tried and tested, the best combinations have been found in a myriad of events.

In doing so hard decisions have been made, and top athletes' dreams have been left shattered.

But so is the way when Olympic squads are selected, and a it's the best indicator of just how primed the class of 2012 is for success.

Now it's on to the games!