Milly Tanner hopes military tactics aid her Commonwealth pursuit

·4-min read
Commonwealth Games - Glasgow 2014 XX Commonwealth Games - Glasgow, Scotland - 24/7/14 Cycling - England Bradley Wiggins (3rd) during the Men's 4000m Team Pursuit final against Australia Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic (Action Images)

Competition at home and on the track is fuelling Milly Tanner’s drive for success at the Commonwealth Games, writes Tum Balogun.

With her dad having served in the Royal Marines, the Exeter track cyclist’s early life was spent ferrying between various cities at two- or three-year intervals.

That experience, and the lessons she learnt from her father, have informed how Tanner approaches cycling and everyday life.

“I don’t play monopoly in our house because it’s just too much,” she joked, ahead of her debut Commonwealth Games.

Those encounters have likely taken on another level of intensity thanks to her brother’s recent admission to the commando force.

She said: “We moved to America when I was two and spent a couple of years there.

“Then came back here where we moved around a lot, which is why I went to boarding school.

“Luckily through the military I was able to gain the support to go, it meant that I didn’t have to follow my dad around whilst he changed jobs.

“With [him] in the military, you know he wasn’t around all the time being on tours but I gained so much.

“His ethos, and the ethos of the Marines actually, there’s a lot that we can take into the team environment here.

“So there are massive parts I’ve taken from that.”

Tanner is one of over more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

It’s a programme which aided her transition to cycling from swimming five years ago and culminated in a World Championship bronze in France last year.

The 23-year-old, with team sprint partners Blaine Ridge-Davis, Sophie Capewell, and Lauren bate, rates that medal and the journey to claim it as the highlight of her young career.

She said: “I had hip surgery and they said to me you’re looking at rehab of about three months.

“And my response to that was okay, no worries, because the Worlds in four so we’ve got four weeks to spare.

“There were a few funny looks - injuries don’t always go to plan.

“But it was honestly the best experience, I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it now.

“Just being at the World Championships, setting a goal and making it was amazing.

“And then to win a medal, it was almost like it proved to everybody how hard we’d worked.

“Realistically I knew we put the work in way before we went on that podium so It was an amazing story and I’m super proud of it.”

The Exeter racer’s thirst for international success was far from quenched by her achievements on the continent.

In fact, the initial drive to come back as quickly as she did was motivated by appearing at a home Games this summer.

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured her place on the squad, Tanner is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in her home country.

Tanner described how during rehab the thought of competing, of being on the track and looking out at the adoring home support, aided her recovery.

“Honestly there were days when it was tough and the main thought that got me through was racing at the Commonwealth Games,” she added.

“My position is at the start of the sprint, I’m in the gate.

“You can see the countdown coming and with about twenty seconds to go you’re at a point where you’re not stressing about what you’re trying to do.

“You’re just taking it all in, taking a breather and just relaxing.

“And the idea of being in that position, looking up to the crowd and seeing my mum and dad shouting and cheering that was what really got me through.

“To be able to have that experience, to make that a reality after how hard that was, that is really really special.”

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