Goulburn Valley Sports Hall of Fame inuductee
A Shepparton girl who attended Bourchier Street primary school and Goulburn Valley Grammar School joined Shepparton Cycling Club at the age of 13.
‘‘My brother and I were keen to give it a go ... I was doing a bit of cycling through my triathlons,’’ Elizabeth Taylor (nee Tadich) said.
After joining the club and loving riding at the Shepparton Velodrome, Taylor quickly showed ability.
‘‘When I first started competing there wasn’t any other girls so I raced against the boys of my age,’’ she said.
‘‘They did a lot of handicapping at that time so you always felt like you had a chance to win.’’
As she won more and more races Taylor was selected in the Victorian Junior Track team at the age of 16.
‘‘In a few years I made the state team and that held me in really good stead to become part of the world junior team,’’ she said.
‘‘That was when I became more formally poached by the Victorian Institute of Sport.
‘‘I spent a lot of time on weekends travelling back and forth from Melbourne ... I got a lot of help from other club members and my parents.’’
Taylor showed she could match it with the best as a track racer, however, cycling leaders had other ideas and convinced her that she had the stamina to ride in road races.
‘‘I went to the junior worlds in Perth when I was 16, then the year after I was in Ecuador, South America,’’ she said.
‘‘It was a real eye-opener, we had bodyguards with us all the time.’’
The experience was wonderful for Taylor and upon return to Australia she was determined to continue in the sport, training tirelessly to ensure she entered senior ranks in top form.
‘‘During my Year 12 year at Goulburn Valley Grammar I was doing a fair bit of travelling at that stage,’’ she said.
‘‘(Thankfully) the school worked with me so I did my schooling over two years.’’
She joined the senior team and was part of the Australian team for the senior world titles in Columbia in 1995.
‘‘I went over to Europe and was based there for about five months,’’ Taylor said.
‘‘I did schoolwork via correspondence and was back home for the exams.
‘‘(Columbia) was a fantastic experience ... it was a really challenging course but I was rapt with how I went ... I think I got 21st.’’
Taylor had arrived as a world class cyclist and in that same year won the Australian women’s road title.
‘‘It was in Canberra ... halfway three of us got away and two of us managed to stay away,’’ she said.
‘‘I was riding okay and I knew my sprint wasn’t bad, I’ve got a bit of a punch, (and) managed to beat Charlotte White.’’
In 1997 Taylor returned to the world cycling championships in San Sebastian, Spain and in a blanket finish rode into second place.
‘‘It was a photo finish, I lost by a centimetre and got second by a centimetre ... I was the first Australian cyclist on the podium ... we’d never had a professional medal,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve had quite a few since then, but cycling wasn’t overly popular back when I raced ... but I might’ve been a household name in this era.’’
Throughout her career Taylor competed successfully in road races around the world and added to her first Australian title in 1995, rode to third place in 1998 and second place in 2001.
She represented her country at Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1998 and in Manchester in 2002.
‘‘World championships are a lot harder because you’re competing against nations all around the world, but being a part of the village with the Australian team was quite special,’’ Taylor said.
Having performed strongly in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, Taylor had her sights set on bringing her best for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
But a collision with a car during a training ride ahead of the Olympic pre-trials left Taylor badly injured, and robbed her of a chance to compete.
‘‘I got hit by someone who didn’t see me ... (I) broke my collarbone and really hurt my back, it took me a while to get over that one,’’ she said.
‘‘I was out of action for a number of weeks right before the lead-up to the selection ... it was pretty devastating to get over.’’
Following 2000, Taylor began to shift her focus away from cycling towards her studies.
‘‘I started thinking about my study and life after cycling, I was still racing a bit but got a commerce degree,’’ she said.
‘‘(Since then) I’ve worked in state government ... and I’m currently working with Commonwealth Games Australia in the finance team.’’
Taylor said it felt good to be inducted in the Sports Hall of Fame and she felt lucky to have been an athlete from a country town.
‘‘There’s always that sense of community ... everyone got behind you ... I don’t have any family there anymore but it’ll be really good to come back (to Shepparton).’’