The Canadian men’s team sprint team narrowly missed an Olympic berth at the track world championships in Melbourne, Australia on Wednesday, finishing with the 11th fastest qualifying time.
With veteran Canadian sprint cyclist Travis Smith of Calgary, Alta., at the helm, the team had hoped to finish in the top 10, but they also had to defeat Venezuela to get the final berth. But the Venezuelan team finished eighth, putting an end to the Canadian dream.
The Canadian sprint team included Smith, of Calgary, Alta., Joseph Veloce of Fonthill, Ont., and Hugo Barrette of Sherbrooke, Que. They posted a time of 46.192 seconds.
“We were planning to come here and get a top 10,” Smith said. I felt like I had a pretty bad last lap.”
Smith said the team had a “lot of new guys” on it, and he had to overcome an injury that put him in intensive care in a hospital for a week last August.
“The race here wasn’t horrible,” he said. “We have room to improve.”
Barrette said while the result was disappointing, the team members “gave all we had,”
“Venezuela was too much ahead of us coming here.”
Barrette, who had just started to race internationally, said he thought his ride went quite well. “I can’t ask for much better,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your individual time is, at the end it’s the team’s time that matters and today we weren’t fast enough.”
Five years ago, Smith crashed at the world championships in Palma de Majorca, Spain in an early keirin round.
He suffered an acetabular fracture of his hip. In other words, as Smith explained it, he broke the bone that holds the leg on. He underwent two surgeries and it took three years to recover from the crash.
Smith had been t-boned by another cyclist, and felt shooting pain in his hip and numbness down his leg, but x-rays showed no fractures initially.
He continued to walk on the leg, but eventually was left in great pain, and two weeks later, found out that he had two fractures in his hip joint.
Doctors did the initial surgery the next day, pulling the leg out of the hip socket and removing four pieces of fractured bone, and inserting three screws and a plate in the leg.
Doctors had warned him if he didn’t let the leg heal properly, his career would be over.
Smith, now 32, had won a silver medal in the keirin event and a bronze in the match sprint at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. He was once ranked fifth in the world.