‘When they win, I feel like I win, too’: Berthy May, Australia's star soigneur 

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There is one member of the Australian Cycling Team who has witnessed first-hand some of the greatest moments in the sport’s history.

World championships, Olympic gold, Commonwealth Games glory – soigneur Berthy May has seen it all.

She was trackside when Anna Meares broke the 500m time trial world record.

She was roadside handing out drink bottles when Michael Matthews won bronze in the world championship road race in Wollongong last year.

And she was one of the first people Matthew Glaetzer embraced after winning gold in the keirin at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

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Berthy with Michael Matthews after he won bronze in Wollongong.
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Matthew Glaetzer hugs Berthy after his Commonwealth Games victory.

As she prepares for the UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow later this year, where she will support para-athletes, Berthy says there have been many highlights during her 15-year career with the Australian Cycling Team.

But her first track world championships holds a special place in her heart.

“I remember very fondly the Track World Championships in 2007 in Majorca, Spain. It was my first with the team and I witnessed Anna Meares win the 500m time trial world title in world record time. I was so excited for her and to witness such a performance with my own eyes,” Berthy told AusCycling.

“I have attended every world championship of Anna’s career since I began with the team through to her retirement post-Rio Olympics in 2016.”

Equally memorable was the Australian track campaign in 2011 in the Netherlands.

“Not only did Anna win three world titles, one with Kaarle McCulloch in the team sprint, but so too did the team pursuit team and Cam Meyer and Leigh Howard in the Madison.”

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Berthy with Anna Meares at the London Olympics. 

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Berthy with Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch.

As a soigneur, Berthy is the engine of the team and works closely with athletes and staff to ensure peak performance.

It’s a varied and sometimes challenging role, but one that she loves and does with pride.

“I love helping athletes thrive, and when they win, or achieve a personal best performance, I feel like I win too,” she said.

“I give my heart and soul to the team, to the athletes and staff, because I am proud to be representing Australia, proud to be representing the team.”

From massages to hairdressing, from pinning on race numbers to driving the car, from filling bottles to providing emotional support; whatever the team needs, Berthy is there to provide it.

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Berthy roadside at the Road Cycling World Championships in Wollongong last year. 

Her responsibilities have included running recovery sessions, buying groceries and cooking meals, wrangling luggage at the airport, and preparing the pit area so the athletes and staff can perform at their peak.

“I love what I do. I love who I get to work with, where my work takes me, and the people it connects me to. I am proud to say I am well-known and have friends all over the world as a result of developing relationships with similar staff and athletes from other nations,” she said.

“I will never forget attending the London World Championships in 2016 with the Australian team and reuniting with Sir Chris Hoy, who greeted me with a hug even years after retiring from the sport. It made me realise that I can impact people beyond my team, and to be regarded by a great person such as Sir Chris Hoy warms my heart.”

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Berthy with Sir Chris Hoy.

Since 2014, she has been been a key part of the Australian para-cycling team, missing only one world championships in that time.

Perhaps it was the words of Peter Day, the former para-cycling director of high performance at Cycling Australia, that summed up how integral she was.

“He said that I was the engine of his team. He also said that before I joined the team it was a Toyota, then while I was there it became a Rolls Royce,” Berthy said.

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