06/15/2012 05:13 EDT | Updated 08/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Tara Whitten, Zach Bell To Lead Olympic Track Cycling Team


Former world champion Tara Whitten and two-time world silver medallist Zach Bell topped the list of seven track cyclists named to the Canadian Olympic team on Friday.

Whitten, from Edmonton, excels in the women’s omnium — a six-race event that will make its Olympic debut in London. Whitten won omnium world titles in 2010 and 2011, and finished fourth this year.

Bell, from Watson Lake, Yukon, won a silver medal in the men’s omnium at the 2009 world championships, and again this year.

“Today is the culmination of a long and very rewarding journey,” Whitten said in a news release. “Tomorrow I will go back to my job of working towards winning the whole darn thing, but today I will take the time to really appreciate the significance of achieving this lifelong dream of representing Canada at an Olympic Games.” Canada qualified entries in an all-time high six track cycling events at the 2012 Games: men’s omnium, women’s omnium, women’s team pursuit, women’s sprint, women’s keirin and men’s keirin.

Women's team pursuit is also making its Olympic debut, and Whitten will captain the Canadian squad that also includes Jasmin Glaesser of Coquitlam, B.C., and Gillian Carleton of Victoria, B.C. (Vancouver’s Laura Brown will serve as the alternate). The team won the bronze medal at the last world championships, and silver at an Olympic test event in London.

Calgary’s Monique Sullivan will race in the women’s sprint and keirin events, and Joseph Veloce of Fonthill, Ont., will compete in the men’s keirin.

Canada hasn’t won an Olympic medal in track cycling since Lori-Ann Muenzer captured gold in the women’s sprint in 2004 in Athens.

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