Clancy backs next generation of cyclists to shine at Commonwealth Games

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Cycling - Track - Men's Team Pursuit - Qualification - Izu Velodrome, Shizuoka, Japan - August 2, 2021. Ethan Hayter of Britain, Ed Clancy of Britain, Ethan Vernon of Britain and Oliver Wood of Britain in action REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Clancy picked up three Olympic gold medals between 2008 and 2016

By James Reid

Ed Clancy believes this summer’s Commonwealth Games offer a chance for the next generation of British cyclists to catapult themselves into the national spotlight.

The three-time Olympic champion, 37, played a pivotal role in a golden era for British cycling alongside the likes of Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny, who all joined the pantheon of Team GB Olympic greats with their performances in Beijing, London, and Rio.

Clancy decided to hang up his saddle during last year’s Tokyo Games and says the time is now ripe for new names to emerge as the faces of the sport.

“A lot of the senior riders, this is going to have come round really quite quickly,” said Clancy, who now coaches for British Cycling and British Triathlon.

“There’s some interesting names – Elynor Bäckstedt, for example – this is her first Games environment and there’s real potential for someone like that to make real shockwaves in the world of cycling, and sport in general.

“We all had that home Olympics, and there was so much attention and focus on that. Not just for us, the whole nation was watching and that really put a generation of athletes on the map – not just cyclists.

“This is the next best thing, to have a home Commonwealth Games, off the back of coronavirus and all of that, I think everyone will be gagging to see a bit of quality sport.

“For the next generation, it’s a great platform to get on the map.”

Clancy shot to fame as cycling became one of the stars of the London 2012 Games, as Great Britain took home eight gold medals.

But the Yorkshireman has no time for looking back, and is solely focused on using his own career to help the next generation of cyclists.

“I’ve had time to [look back] but to be honest I’ve got no interest in it,” admitted Clancy.

“I’m much more interested in the future, I always have been. Every time we’ve done an Olympic cycle, or a Commonwealth Games, I’m not really one for looking back.

“I entertain the debriefs because it was worthwhile going forward. As soon as I crossed the line in Tokyo, I put that part of my life behind me.

“I never really thought about the implications of what it meant to the sport then or to me personally.

“I still use my past to make way for my future but I don’t want to be talking about what I did in another ten years’ time.

“I want to be talking about the impact on today’s champions and tomorrow’s champions.

“The Under-23s lads I’ve been coaching, I hope one of those lads will go on to do something great.

“Hopefully in another ten years’ time I’ll be talking about the things I was doing today, not just the things I was doing in 2012.”

Despite his relentless focus on the future, Clancy still reflects fondly on London 2012, and advised the upcoming cohort of athletes about to embark on their own home Games in Birmingham to relax and enjoy the experience.

“I remember it being pressured, I remember there being a lot of weight of expectation on our shoulders,” reflected Clancy, who broke the world record to take gold in the team pursuit in 2012.

“We had an incredible team, incredible set-up entering into a completely unique experience.

“Physically you can only ever hope to live once and the fact we made the most of it was just amazing.

“My best advice is to relax, keep things in perspective, focus on the things that are within your circle of control.

“If they can keep the nerves and pressure at bay they’ll do a performance they can be proud of.

“They don’t need someone cracking the whip telling them how important it is and that it’s a big platform and an amazing opportunity.

“They already know that, and they believe that. They wouldn’t have got that far otherwise.

“On the big events like the Commonwealth Games, it’s about keeping cool and doing what they know under the lights on the big day.”

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