Watt a champion

Kathy Watt crosses the line to win gold for Australia in the women's road race at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Kathy Watt crosses the line to win gold for Australia in the women's road race at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

In 1992, Warragul born cyclist Kathy Watt shocked the world on the biggest stage when she claimed gold at the Barcelona Olympics in the women’s road race.
The daughter of Warragul optometrist and renowned marathon runner Geoff Watt, Kathy was just four and a half when her father died while training on Mt Erica, but as she grew older, her father’s legacy inspired her to go on her own sporting journey.
“He was an inspiration for me,” she said. “Warragul as a town was a great place to grow up, there were heaps of different sports to play, which I did most of them growing up,” she added.
Naturally, Kathy took up running from a young age hoping to follow in her father’s footsteps and it looked like she would when she won the national junior three-kilometre championship. However, an Achilles injury troubled her constantly, leading her to explore some different sporting codes.
That is when Kathy hopped on a bike, a move that would change her life.
“In the end I chose cycling and within a few months had come second at the national championships and within two years, finished seventh at the Tour de France,” she said.
Kathy had found her sport. She began training with the Blackburn Cycling Club and learned from riders something that would hold her in good stead in future years - the ability to descend.
“I was training with the guys at Blackburn and they were teaching me how to descend. I hadn’t crashed yet, so I had no fear, which helped me a lot during the tours I did,” she said. “Once I learned that I was able to make up time on descents that helped me a lot,” she added.
While Kathy was grasping the physical aspect of cycling, learning the tactics and when to gain an advantage on the road was something that she had to spend time developing.
When she was running it came naturally, she knew when to take off, or wait. When it came to cycling, she needed help and began training with a coach.
“It was a big learning curve, it’s a lot different from an 800m or 1500m run. I had to learn the tactics; cycling was very different to running I found out quickly, it’s really like chess on wheels. I began working with a coach who helped me a lot, he was also coaching another rider at the same time,” she said.
That other rider was Cadel Evans, who would go on to win the Tour de France in 2011.
In 1990, Kathy headed to the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, representing Australia in the women’s road and pursuit race events.
The road race was a tight one with Kathy helping lead her team out, but as the race went on, she noticed her opponents beginning to drop off and realised she may have a chance at a Commonwealth gold medal.


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