Australia’s under-23 road race champion Alyssa Polites has been awarded the highest level of scholarship by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF), which will see her receive mentoring from champion swimmer Leisel Jones OAM.
Polites is one of six athletes selected in Tier 1 of the SAHOF 2023 Scholarship & Mentoring Program.
She will receive $10,000 towards her training and competition, as well as one-on-one mentoring from one of the greats of Australian sport.
The 19-year-old, who is from Carnegie Caufield Cycling Club in Victoria, has long been on the rise towards the sport’s highest level. She has won multiple junior national titles on track and road, and most recently added the under-23 road title to her palmarès.
This year, Polites represented Australia on the track at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Thanks to her efforts, Polites has secured her first professional road cycling contract. After racing with Sydney Uni-Staminade in the National Road Series, she will turn pro with Team BikeExchange-Jayco next year.
Off the bike, Polites is studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science and Bachelor of Business.
“It is such an honour to be successfully selected as a part of this year’s Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentor Program and join the list of Australia's best high performing athletes,” Polites said.
“The mentoring aspect could not have come at a better time in my early career, and I'm really looking forward to learning and seeing sport from a different perspective with the help of my mentor, Leisel Jones.”
Jones is regarded as one of the greatest breaststroke swimmers ever. She won nine Olympic medals, seven World Championships titles, and set 14 individual world records.
Jones made her Olympic debut at just 15 years old, giving her experience to share with Polites about facing the pressures elite sport at a young age.
AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner said, “Congratulations to Alyssa on being selected for the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program.
“With her upbeat attitude, Alyssa has made the most of every opportunity she’s been given after two frustrating years of reduced travel and racing due to the pandemic.
“This scholarship, and the mentorship from swimming legend Liesel Jones, will support Alyssa’s continued growth on and off the bike.
“We are delighted for Alyssa and grateful that the Sport Australia Hall of Fame continues to support our emerging athletes.”
The three-tiered scholarship program is backed by the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport.
The other Tier 1 scholarship recipients are Claire Colwill (hockey); Mackenzie Mielczarek (athletics – javelin); Max Stagg (baseball); Jesse Parkinson (snowboarding); and Stefan Elliott-Shircore (sailing).
Twenty-six athletes receiving Tier 2 and 3 scholarships will be announced in the coming weeks.
Previous winners of SAHOF scholarships include Zoe Cuthbert, Luke Plapp and Caroline Buchanan.
Feature photo: Con Chronis