Matthew Glaetzer claimed bronze in the latest round of the UCI Track World Cup in his first race back since his cancer diagnosis.
The Australian came third in the men’s Keirin in Cambridge, New Zealand, with Malaysia’s Azizulhasni Awang taking gold and Russia’s Shane Perkins silver.
He could have been in contention for the overall victory, however, having won his first two races but then being too far back on the last lap in the final.
Glaetzer’s bronze adds to a successful medal haul for the Australians in Cambridge, having taken six in total.
The 27-year-old was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in October and had surgery a month ago to remove a tumour in his throat.
After New Zealand, he will return to his native Australia to contest the next round of the World Cup in Brisbane. After that, he will have his radiotherapy treatment intensified.
It was further down the coast in Melbourne when Glaetzer was on his way to the airport after testing equipment for the Tokyo Olympics when he received the call telling him he had cancer.
Glaetzer thought he had strained his neck during a leg press exercise in the gym but after an ultrasound he was told it was “looking cancerous”.
“I was checking my phone waiting for a call, then driving to the airport I got it saying ‘it’s positive for thyroid cancer and we need to start the process of dealing with it’,”Glaetzer told Adelaide Now.
Glaetzer is a two-time track world champion, having won gold in the Team Sprint at Melbourne 2012 and in the Men’s Sprint in 2018 in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.
He’s also won three Commonwealth golds, two in the Keirin in Glasgow in 2014 and at his home Games on the Gold Coast in 2018, where he also won the 1km time trial.
The Australian competed at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, narrowly missing out on medals after finishing fourth in both the Men’s Sprint and Men’s Team Sprint.
While Glaetzer has suffered from fatigue since his diagnosis, according to The Age, he still remains committed to competing at Tokyo 2020.
“One of the first thoughts I had in regard to my cycling career and Tokyo was ‘I’m not going to let this stop me’, if I am able to and if it’s safe to, then you know what? I’m not going to let this have power over what I do,” Glaetzer said.
“I have some goals I want to achieve and Tokyo is the big target, that hasn’t changed. I’m not going to stop chasing the Olympics and being the best in the world.”