6 September 2023

Canberra’s Lauren Bates: a 17-year-old cycling champion with a killer instinct

| Tim Gavel
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Lauren Bates. Photo: Supplied.

Lauren Bates is following in the tracks of Michael Matthews and Chloe Hosking. Photo: Supplied.

Lauren Bates had barely stepped off the plane on her return home to Canberra when she was subjected to a medical at the AIS. She finally had the opportunity to tend to her wounds from her overseas competitions.

But not even second-degree burns and bruises resulting from sliding on a wooden velodrome at 60 kilometres an hour could dampen her enthusiasm for the sport.

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Seventeen-year-old Lauren is back home after an eventful campaign, which saw her win a staggering five medals. This included three gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Trinidad and Tobago followed by a bronze in the team’s pursuit at the Junior Track Cycling World titles in Colombia.

She is still bearing the scars from the Colombian track.

“I was wiped out by an Italian in qualifying, then in the last event, I was involved in another crash. I lost a lot of skin from the burns sliding on the wood,” said Lauren.

Lauren Bates. Photo: Supplied.

Lauren Bates at the beginning of what is and promises to be an incredible career. Photo: Supplied.

It would appear as though not even burns and bruising will stop Lauren at the moment: “I’m passionate about the sport; I’m addicted to it. I want to see how much my body can handle.”

And it appears that she can handle a lot.

None of this is a surprise to ACTAS Endurance Program Head Coach Glenn Doney, a man who has had a significant role in the development of champions such as Michael Matthews and Chloe Hosking at a similar age to Lauren.

“I’ve been working with her since December 2021 at ACTAS,” said Glen.

“She’s on par with what Michael and Chloe were able to achieve in the 17-18 year old age bracket. She definitely has a killer instinct, she follows instructions, has great attention to detail, has great self-analysis, provides timely feedback and is a student of the sport.”

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Lauren, it would appear, has been studying the sport for some time, beginning as a three-year-old, before becoming competitive at 14 years of age.

Before Glenn, Lauren was coached by Sian Mulholland, the first woman to represent Australia at the World Track Cycling titles in 1982.

Glenn praises the work of legendary Canberra coach Sian Mulholland, as does Lauren.

“Sian is an awesome coach. I can’t thank her enough.”

As to the origins of that killer instinct, “I think I get that from my dad,” says Lauren.

Lauren Bates holding a gold medal

Gold medal winner, Lauren Bates. Photo: Supplied.

She wants to head to Europe and compete in a professional team in a similar fashion to Chloe Hosking.

Her ambition and positive outlook are ever-present.

“I’m going to take any opportunity that comes my way. I want to go to Europe next year. I want to learn more. I’m going to have a gap year and save up.”

Lauren’s emergence has come at the right time, with the UCI introducing an under-23 category for women in 2025, providing the likes of Lauren with the perfect pathway.

Glenn Doney has no doubt she could reach the heights achieved by fellow Canberra champions in women’s cycling.

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