We recently sat down with the latest decorated track sprinter and all round track cycling legend to join BLS, Shane Perkins.
He’s a former world champion, Olympic medalist and rider on the Japanese professional keirin circuit. From Australia to Russia, and now to Tokyo – we hear it all from the man himself.
How did you get into cycling, and specifically track cycling? Did you have a go at any other sports growing up?
I grew up around cycling with my father being a custom frame builder and coach. We were always at track events which I enjoyed watching and we always had riders coming around to our house to see my dad. I played basketball at a descent level for a while, cricket and AFL footy as well, but turned to track cycling when I was around 12-13.
You were Junior World champion, how do you think that laid the foundation for your future career?
Getting to represent Australia at the Junior World Championships was a great experience and very fun period in my career. Although I had some success as a junior at the world champs, it’s still a very big step to go from juniors into seniors and I think sometimes that can provide a very difficult challenge for riders going from being junior world champion into the elite ranks, but they just need to be patient and hopefully the results will come.
You’re quite the family man and come from a rich cycling heritage from your father and in-laws, how do you think that has helped your career? And would you like to see your kids follow in your footsteps?
I have been very lucky to have someone like my father supporting me in the sport and having had access to all his experiences from his career. I have done him and my family very proud over the years! Also having a brother-in-law that has had so much success in the sport is great and Ryan (Ryan Bayley is a former Olympic champion himself) has/is to this day been a big supporter of mine, and we often speak about racing. It’s pretty cool to have his support and also that our kids hang out together. My father is doing well after his battle in Germany, he is a very lucky man, and he and our whole family are very grateful for all the support that was shown to us to support his condition.
You’ve had numerous stints racing the Japan professional keirin circuit. Could you tell us more about that and if you’d like to go back some day and race again?
Japan is and always will be a fantastic part of my life, I am very grateful to JKA for having me in Japanese keirin for 8 seasons. I have certainly grown as a person form having that experience overseas. In 2018 I wanted to have a slower year in terms of travel and spend more time with my family, but I am certainly hopeful that I can go back again to the Japanese keirin in 2019/2020!
What would you say have been your biggest achievements, and how would you rate them in order?
It’s honestly hard to put them in order. The pinnacle of our sport is the Olympics and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to come away with a bronze medal from London 2012! Being world champion is a great honour!
What have been some of the lows you’ve had to overcome en-route to success?
Look, I have had some tough times but so has everyone in life! Upon those tough times I have been lucky to have great people around me and the fortitude to continue doing what I love! When we realise that the challenges don’t stop we find a new level, and it’s important to realise we have the choice daily to give us the best opportunity to achieve our goals!
What would you say is your biggest strength, or characteristic that has helped you be so successful?
Do you ever make use of sport psychology, and if so, what techniques or approaches?
Yes I certainly make use of sports psychology, it has become more natural for me now, but early on in my career I did have trouble focusing. Writing down your goals makes them real, then laying down how you are going to achieve them gives what you are doing daily purpose. Certainly in the lead up a race I clear my head, give my focus to what I am doing and working through the things I can control, and letting go of the negatives that pop up! Focus on the process, and let the results follow!
You’ve gone against the grain with your recent move to race for Russia, could you tell us what made you make that bold decision and how it’s unfolding for you?
Actually, I was going to retire at the end of 2016 as I didn’t see a way to continue racing my bike without the necessary support. Having been friends with Denis (Denis Dmitriev is a member of the Russian national team) for some time through Japan keirin racing together, he knew some of the challenges I had faced in the lead up to Rio, and tongue in cheek said a few times you should ride for Russia as they need a keirin and team sprint rider.
At the end of 2016 after Rio Olympics, Denis and I got chatting over a couple beers and I mentioned that i am interested to continue riding if we could do it towards Tokyo. So we started the process and thanks to Denis I am now a Russian citizen and getting the necessary support to continue racing my bike!
It wasn’t an easy decision having raced for Australia for so many years, but an opportunity to continue to Tokyo was something I just couldn’t pass up, after all I wasn’t being supported by Australia. It’s important to know this decision wasn’t in anger with the Australian team as they knew of my communication with Russia and were more than happy for me to continue along that path. I am extremely grateful for the support I have received over the years from the Australian team and we had some great success. Life goes on and different opportunities present themselves! Racing for Russia certainly has its own set of challenges and it isn’t easy!
You’re still living and occasionally racing in Australia, how does that feel when racing under the Russian flag?
Honestly it feels natural to me; Russia has welcomed me with open arms and so has the team! They realise it isn’t just me, and I have my wife and two kids in my life also. So they understand greatly that they need stability, and we get that currently in Brisbane, Australia. It’s challenging with training as I don’t have all the access required to the velodrome, but we are working on that!
What would you say has been the biggest change or evolution in track cycling since you started racing up until now?
What would you, as a seasoned professional, like to see change in track cycling? And where do you see the sport going?
It would be great to allow a bit more contact and movement back in the sprint and keirin events to boost the visual for the fans!
What are your goals for future, and life after professional cycling?
When that time comes we will face it, I do have a passion for helping others though, so coaching may be something I could naturally fall into!
Shane has recently joined the Track Cycling Academy.
Do you have any advice for younger riders, and anyone chasing their goals in track cycling?
Be patient, work hard, and train smart!
To conclude, could share some of your stats?
Peak Power: 2485
Peak Rpm on rollers: 245
Squat x 3 reps: 225kg
What products does Shane use:
Check out the full range of BLS Track Cycling Products here.
Follow Shane here:
For more info on Shane’s work with the Track Cycling Academy, check them out here.
Interview by: Matthew de Freitas