Michael Hepburn
Michael Hepburn Cycling Australia

World crown leaves mum speechless

HER voice was hoarse but there was no stopping Jill Hepburn when asked about her son Michael yesterday.

"I've screamed for so many days I can't talk," Jill said.

The reason for the screaming was in support of Michael at the World Track Cycling Championships in Melbourne where the Ipswich Cycling Club member experienced mixed results.

The Australian pursuit team, of which Hepburn is an integral member, finished second to a great Britain team last Wednesday night that set a new world record in the process.

But Hepburn gained the consolation of an individual world title when he beat world record holder and close friend Jack Bobridge in the 4000m Individual Pursuit (IP) final on Saturday night.

"It was just great to see," Jill said. "He was just ecstatic."

Footage of Michael showed him shaking his head in seeming disbelief following the win.

"We were getting a bit worried for a while but he brought it home," Jill said.

"He was behind in qualifying as well before setting a four-second personal best.

"He was nearly two seconds behind (in the final) and we thought he'd left his run too late.

"But my husband (Len) and I said 'just wait, just wait'.

"After each 125m, you look at the clock and we could see him bringing it down."

It was the first time Michael had beaten Bobridge in the event.

Michael has claimed world championship and Commonwealth Games bronze medals in the event while Bobridge has taken the gold.

For the past two years, Hepburn has praised his friend and rival's achievements while gently emphasising the fact he was two years younger than Bobridge and was making similar improvements time-wise.

Unfortunately for both there is no IP at the Olympics this time round, so their focus will be on the team pursuit.

"He and Jack are the best of friends," Jill said.

"Jack said after the race 'I don't mind giving (my world title) to my best mate'."

Jill does not think losing the team event to Great Britain was a bad thing.

"It was disappointing to see them lose," she said. "But they will go into the Olympics now as underdogs and they know they can be beaten."

There is no point asking Jill what Michael's goals were before the event, however, and not because she had lost her voice.

"We don't ask him and he doesn't tell us," she said.

"He just tells us he's going out to do his best."

There is no let-up for Hepburn who flies with Bobridge to Spain tomorrow to join the Greenedge cycling team competing at the European road cycling season.

"He's got three tours - Turkey, Norway and Slovenia," Jill said.

It will keep him in shape before he joins his Olympic teammates to prepare for the London Games which begin in July.

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