Tokyo Olympics postponement a blessing for Philip Hindes

Philip Hindes is treating the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics as an opportunity.

Six weeks ago, before the lockdown began and the Games were moved back by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the two-time Olympic champion had accepted his role as first reserve in the team sprint as he fought his way back from a hip injury.

But now the 27-year-old can see his chance to force his way back in as Jason Kenny, Jack Carlin, Ryan Owens and Joe Truman jostle for places.

“As bad as it sounds, the delay actually helps me,” Hindes told the PA news agency. “Instead of rushing everything for the next few months I can recover from my injury.

“The other guys will probably disagree. They were in the shape of their life and ready for Tokyo but for me it’s actually good because I can get back up to my best.

“I actually think it’s good for the whole team. We’ve been chasing the Dutch down – they were a second ahead of us at the World Championships (in February) and this gives us another year to bridge the gap.”

Hindes is feeling fortunate that last year he kitted out his garage with a full gym, something now proving invaluable as he is able to do all his training from home during the lockdown.

In fact, beyond food shopping he has barely left the house, doing only a handful of leg-loosening rides on his road bike as he instead focuses on his gym work and short blasts on his turbo trainer.

Crucially, with the aid of regular video calls to his physio, the lockdown is doing nothing to slow Hindes’ recovery from injury.

“I’ve figured out ways to do everything I need to do, all the different stretches and ways of opening the hip out,” he said.

“Normally you go into the velodrome and the physios do everything for you but it’s good that I now know how to do it all myself and it’s a bit more proactive.

“I’m in a much better way than I was three or four months ago and now I’ve got quite a bit of time to the Olympics so there’s no need to rush.”

The main challenge, he said, can be motivation. The sprint squad are used to trying to outdo one another on the track and in the gym, but must now work in isolation.

“Now all you have is a Whatsapp message and you have to do it all yourself,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been struggling with.”

Beyond the usual group chats, the sprint team have been staying in touch by playing Call of Duty against each other online, even if the standard is not great.

“I don’t think anyone is that good, to be honest,” Hindes said. “Jack is probably the best.”

Hindes is also indulging another love – that of a good cup of coffee – but it is now more than a hobby.

Though the pandemic has delayed things slightly, next month should see the launch of Five Rings Coffee, a new venture from Hindes, former Olympic sprinter Callum Skinner and Team Ineos rider Owain Doull.

The new company will sell coffee beans with a story – each blend named after a location and coming complete with their memories of racing there, whether it be the ‘Cali Crash’ about Doull’s miserable experience at the 2014 World Championships in Colombia, or a Brazilian blend with happier memories of the Rio Olympics.

“It was back last summer when Owain had just come back from a race he’d done well in and we went for a beer,” Hindes said.

“We were talking about coffee and just said, ‘Let’s do it’. Then we got Callum roped in too and decided to go for it.”