Cycling: Jon Andrews balancing coach, dad responsibilities as daughter Ellesse pushes towards Paris Olympics

The man tasked with guiding the Cycling New Zealand sprint team to the Paris Olympics has credentials that no one else can claim.   

Jon Andrews has replaced Nick Flyger in the role after he returned across the Tasman to be with family after wife and champion cyclist Anna Meares was named the Australian team's Chef de Mission for next year's Games.   

But Andrews isn't just a Commonwealth Games medallist and successful coach, he's also the dad of keirin world champion, Ellesse.   

"I'm super proud, in lots of different ways." He told Newshub at the National Velodrome in Cambridge.  

Ellesse Andrews celebrates.
Ellesse Andrews celebrates. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It's been great as a dad to stand back and watch her perform and see her achieve what she has achieved.  

"I often joke about putting my dad hat on versus my coach hat."    

And Andrews is having to fit both on his head. Ellesse is arguably more aware of the separation of roles.   

"I do call him Jon." Ellesse explains. "I feel like it's just become a habit now.   

"It started when I was younger to get his attention. So, it's now probably a more professional thing.   

"If we're at home, chilling out, it's more Dad."   

And Dad has no issue with it.    

"That's fine. I've got a few nicknames for Ellesse and I've been told that I can't use them at work. It's all good."   

Jon's most recently been with Cycling Australia and has previously coached Ellesse winning multiple junior world championships.  

That approach to coaching won't change, despite them reuniting.

Ellesse Andrews.
Ellesse Andrews. Photo credit: Getty Images

"As a dad, Ellesse is a great human being," he added. "She's a really positive person, go getter, as are all the athletes in the squad.   

"That's a really big focus for us, and probably something I'll do a little bit differently, is focus on the human aspect of the athletes.     

"One of my strong beliefs is that good people do good things, and happy people and happy athletes are good athletes."  

But he concedes honest conversations were needed around balancing their work and personal relationships.  

"So far we've nailed it and we can have the professional discussions when we need to and perhaps take some of the emotion out of the conversations," he said.

"When you're a dad with your kids, there's always emotions and more scope for that to come in. So it's just a matter of getting that right."   

And while Ellesse is the face of the women's programme, it's one which Jon believes has the potential to succeed as a group.  

"The women's team sprint is super exciting. Fifth at the world champs with Rebecca Petch not really being able to walk.   

"She couldn't even sit in a chair because she'd injured her back in training a week before. So we saw a very underpowered Rebeca in the one seat and she was still near her best.

"And then Shaane Fulton didn't deliver her personal best at Glasgow either and had done just a few weeks before in Cambridge.   

"So, when you look at those two factors and Olivia King as a fourth rider, the team and I are really confident that they're a serious chance to get on the podium in Paris. That's just so exciting.  

A dad-daughter combo could prove crucial to doing so. Just maybe keep the chat away from the dinner table.