RICKY Thackray has embraced his role as a leader in the Australian squad ahead of the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships.
The Huntingdale resident was selected to represent his country at his fourth world championships, held in Lithuania in August.
The 39-year-old, who only took up the sport in his late 20s, said he is comfortable being Australia’s most experienced team member.
“The first couple of years I represented Australia, there was a guy older than me in the team, and he’s been in the team pretty much every year since the world championships started,” he said.
“So back then I was looking up to him, but by now I’m by far the most senior person in the team.
“All but one of the team members has represented Australia in the past, but I still see myself as having the most experience, hopefully directing what happens.”
Thackray said he his was hoping to better his top 40 finish in the long distance event at last year’s championships, but admitted it would be a hard task.
“You think this time you’ll do really well, but then you realize how much better Europeans are than the rest of the world, that’s what they do; they do it for a living,” he said.
“I got into the top 40 with one race last year and thought I could probably do better and I am faster this year than I was last year.”
While he has ramped up the training over the past year, Thackray has also had time to improve the local MTBO circuits around Perth.
“I’m the local organiser of MBTO events here as well, I’ve been updating and creating new areas for us to ride in over here to try and promote the sport a bit.”