Sir Chris Hoy reckons Scottish cycling is in its healthiest ever state

·5-min read
Sir Chris Hoy reckons Scottish cycling is in its healthiest ever state
Sir Chris Hoy reckons Scottish cycling is in its healthiest ever state

TEAM Scotland’s impressive haul of 51 medals at Birmingham 2022 was helped, in no small part, by the input from the cycling squad, which had its most successful Commonwealth Games ever.

This success proves, believes six-time Olympic champion, Sir Chris Hoy, that Scottish cycling is in its healthiest state ever and the performances in Birmingham will prove an effective springboard as next summer’s World Championships and the 2024 Olympics draw closer.

Scotland’s riders won eleven medals in Birmingham, with silverware picked up in both in the velodrome and on the road.

Neah Evans made history in winning three medals, becoming Scotland’s most successful female cyclist at a single Commonwealth Games while perhaps the most unexpected medal was Finn Crockett’s bronze in the men’s road race, beating the likes of former Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas onto the podium.

“It was such a fantastic performance and it was brilliant to see the spread of medals across the events,” Hoy, who won four Commonwealth medals during his own career, said.

“Normally, we rely on the big-hitters but to see so many riders win medals in so many different disciplines was incredible, it was a wonderful performance across the board.”

There is little time for Scotland’s top riders to catch their breath, however, with the European Championships beginning today in Munich, with Commonwealth medallists Evans and Jack Carlin, as well as Alistair Fielding and mountain biker Isla Short the Scottish contingent in the 26-strong GB team.

With a turnaround of less than a week between major championships, this is a unique season and something Hoy admits he never had to face, but he has little doubt the Scots will continue their good form in Munich.

“I never had turnaround this quick so I’ve never experienced this but they’ll be using the same spike of form as they used at the Commonwealth Games so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes,” he said.

“You’d expect both Neah and Jack to medal in at least some of the events they’re riding in, if not all.

“It’s a 200m track and so with Jack being a little smaller, that might suit him - it’ll favour someone who can control the race because it’s much harder to pass on the tighter bends.”

It is Carlin in particular who Hoy has his attention trained on.

Having broken onto the international scene with silver in the team sprint at the 2016 European Championships, the 25-year-old was touted as the man to fill Hoy’s shoes in the sprinting events.

Despite his success in the intervening years though – he has won eleven major championship medals including silver and bronze at at Birmingham 2022 – he has yet to get his hands on a gold medal at a major championship.

However, Hoy remains optimistic that the breakthrough will come for Carlin, and sooner rather than later.

“I’m really hopeful Jack can win a gold medal,” he said.

“I think his reaction to his medals will be different as the years have gone on.

“When you’ve been a silver medallist, there’s only one place to go and that’s to gold.

“When he reflects on his performances in Birmingham, he’ll realise he did really well – it’s not like he underperformed. He’s been riding well and setting new personal bests but it’s just that the standard is so high.

“The first gold medal will be the real challenge for him but I have no doubt that it’s going to come and I really hope it comes this week.”

Hoy is also mindful of Katie Archibald, who missed Birmingham 2022 through injury, and her potential return to fitness. He is hopeful that despite her disappointing year, this setback might even drive the two-time Olympic champion onto greater success.

“Katie’s had a terrible year. I’m certain that physically, she has plenty left in the tank, it’s just if she can pick herself up after it all,” the 46-year-old said.

“Hopefully the support she has will help her do that.

“It’s incredibly demoralising though – there’s nothing worse than to be sitting at home watching a major championship and not being a part of it.

“It’s really hard not to be there – thankfully I only missed one major championship but often what happens is it fires you up going forward.

“Katie is incredibly tough though and she’ll bounce back.”

Hoy was speaking in his role as a National Lottery ambassador and in reaction to the National Lottery’s research which found parents feel sporting role models can play an important role in encouraging their children to be more active, he said: “80 percent of parents say that sporting role models inspire their kids to be more active so if we can get more kids out there, it’s great. It’s finding ways to do things that are cheap or even free – like doing things like parkruns with your kids. My son, Callum, does the junior parkrun with my wife because if you’ve ever seen me running, it’s not a pretty sight.

“They both watched the Commonwealth Games but all my daughter said was that I look smaller on telly. And Callum loved the gymnastics so we’ll see what he ends up doing.”