Australian Track and Road Cyclist
Professional team: Mitchelton-SCOTT
"Follow your bliss"
Australian Track and Road Professional Cyclist for Mitchelton-SCOTT
Alexandra Manly was born on the 28th of February 1996 in Kalgoorlie Western Australia. She took up cycling through the South Australian Sports Institute talent identification program when she was 14. She now rides for the Australian Track High Performance Unit and for Australian professional women’s road team Mitchelton-Scott.
The Begining of my Cycling Journey
I have been very lucky and grown up in a loving and supportive environment. From a young age my parents always told me I could do and be anything I wanted, and I believed them. Every birthday my siblings and I would receive a card with Dad’s inspirational quotes, usually song lyrics from “Forever Young”.
I remember tagging along as Dad coached my older sister Anna’s basketball games, idolising my sister and her friends. So it was no surprise that basketball became the first sport I fell in love with and started playing when I was 6. It wasn’t long after that I started chasing my other sister Nadia around our paddock as she trained for the schools cross country. Of course I couldn’t keep up and would often walk when I was behind the trees, out of sight from Dad and his whistle. Dad soon saw the potential in Nadia so he decided we should try athletics.
Nadia was very good and always performed well winning several state medals. My first medal was Bronze in the Victorian Cross Country run at Lardner Park near Warragul when I was a 6 year old. (I wore my jeans and joggers together proudly on the podium next to the other medallist who looked professional even at that age). We also tried other sports including netball, hockey, tennis, javelin and steeple chase as we moved throughout WA, Vic, NSW and SA.
It wasn’t until the family moved to the Adelaide Hills that cycling found me. My best friend Mel opened up the letter I received at school inviting me to a ‘come & try’ cycling day. I probably would have left the letter crumpled in the bottom of my bag, if it wasn’t for Mel. She encouraged me to go see what this cycling thing was all about. From then on I haven’t looked back.
The first year I started riding I continued to do my other sports. I was competing at a national level in cross country and steeple chase, and won Bronze as an U14 in the Australian Basketball Club Championships. A year later I made the decision to give up all the other sport and focus only on cycling.
My love for cycling grew, I became obsessed (it’s a normal thing in cycling, it’s addictive). I fell in love with the freedom, the speed and independence cycling gave me. I enjoyed pushing myself beyond previous limitations and working towards ever higher goals.
There’s something satisfying after making it through a hard day on the bike. I found like-minded friends with similar interests. I worked really hard and started slowly getting results.
In 2012 I won my first “big race” the U17 Women’s Australia Junior Mountain Climbing Championships. Then in 2013 I won U19 National Titles on the mountain and road. This helped me make the Junior Worlds road team where I went on to claim Bronze in the Individual Time Trial.
The following year (2014) I made both the track and road Junior Worlds teams and went on to become a dual Junior World Gold medallist on the track.
My first year as a senior athlete I joined Orica-Scott as a development rider in conjunction with the Australian track program. I won my first senior gold medal at the 2015 track world cup in Cali in the team pursuit with my teammates Macey Stewart, Lauren Perry and Elissa Wundersitz. It was one of the best moments of my life sharing that win with the girls. Later In 2015 Jessica Mundy and I won the Bendigo International Madison one of the most enjoyable events on the cycling calendar and one I thoroughly recommend to competitors and spectators.
I injured a disc in my back in late November 2015 and it was a real set back, I couldn’t do much on the bike. My back settled down over the 2016 road season, where I raced in Europe with my Orica-Scott teammates.
I am still racing on the track and road and have set lots of goals for the 2017 seasons. I am continually working on being the best cyclist I can be. 🙂