Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
Category: Sports Hall of Fame
The sport of cycling had been a popular past time for many years, with Shepparton providing its share of top performers. Even the great Hubert Opperman once raced as a member of the Shepparton cycling club. It therefore wasn’t surprising that cycling would provide the second Shepparton sports person to represent Australia in the Olympic Games.
Track cyclist John Thorsen showed brilliant form as soon as he joined the Shepparton Cycling Club as a junior. He came under notice when he started winning races at local level then performed well at regional carnivals and at state level. In 1972 he won the Goulburn Valley sports star of the year award as a junior, a feat which he repeated in 1975 and 1976.
It was obvious that the flashing pedals of the Shepparton rider would take him to greater heights and he was soon winning country and state titles as both a track and road rider. This brought him into contention to ride at a national level. Thorsen won a Victorian and an Australian title in 1974 and he was chosen to represent Australia overseas. He added the Dutch and English junior road championships to his record the same year.
John Thorson had become one of Australia’s most promising cyclists and was set to ride at the highest level. In the Olympic year of 1976, at 18 years of age, Thorson became Shepparton’s second Olympian when he was selected for the Montreal Olympic Games in the track cycling team. He was at that stage Australia’s youngest Olympic cyclist. He competed in a team event as a member of the 4000 Meters Pursuit team.
John took a break from cycling in 1977 but returned to the sport the following year to win the 1978 Devonport Wheel race and the Bendigo Madison with Malcolm Hill. His comeback was going well but disaster struck in 1980 when he was severely injured when he was knocked down by a vehicle during a training ride. Unfortunately that accident ended the brilliant cycling career of one of Shepparton’s second Olympian and one of the best riders to represent the City.
John showed his love for the sport following his injury as he set many young cyclists on the road to competing in events. He spent thousands of hours on a motorbike at the velodrome and on the roads as he coached young riders, improving their performances. The sport of cycling was greatly enhanced by John giving generously of his time to coach juniors.
John Thorson will now take his place amongst the sporting champions in the City of Shepparton Sports Hall of Fame.