Ryan Bayley emerged from the 2004 Athens Games as the only Australian cyclist ever to have won two individual Olympic gold medals. (Russell Mockridge won two gold in Helsinki in 1952, but one was for the tandem, with Lionel Cox). Bayley, who began competitive cycling in his home town of Perth when he was 15, won the sprint and teams sprint events at the junior world track championships in Italy in 2000, and was a double Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2002. In the Athens individual sprint, Bayley won gold after overwhelming the world champion, Theo Bos, of the Netherlands, 2-1 in the final. Bos won the first of their three tense encounters, and looked well placed to take the second when Bayley summoned up enough fast-twitch force to throw his bike across the line - a trick he had learned as a junior BMX champion. In the final shoot-out he passed Bos on the final curve to win.
His second victory, which helped cement Australia’s place as the top track-cycling nation in Athens, came in the eight-lap roughhouse event known as the keirin. Later he said the keirin, partially paced by motor-bike, suited him: “It’s a lottery, like dodgem cars. It’s insane.” Apart from his form as the fastest on wheels, Bayley won international media attention for his unconventional, largely junk-food diet … popcorn chicken, chocolate ice-creams, hamburgers with chips, chocolate biscuits. Bayley won gold in the sprint and the keirin at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, but was unplaced in both events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He announced his retirement from the sport in June 2009.
Harry Gordon, AOC historian