Track Cycling

Tokyo Olympics delay could favour young Scots cyclists – Katie Archibald – BBC News

Katie Archibald (second left) and Neah Evans (second right) won silver with the GB team pursuit team at this year’s World Championships

But she thinks emerging talent will benefit from the extra time to develop.

“With a lot of the Scottish riders that aren’t of the Olympic team, I think you could say that there’s a disproportionate advantage,” she says.

“When we look at riders like Jack Carling, who’s one of the big sprinting hopes, he’s really young, he’s kind of getting better year on year. I don’t think this should have such a hit on his Olympic prep.”

Archibald also picks out Neah Evans, who is 29 but only burst onto the scene with two Commonwealth Games medals in 2018, and Anna Shackley, who has just signed for a professional team.

“When you look at the riders on the steep upwards trajectory, I wouldn’t want to imply that the rest of us are free-falling, it is these Scottish names that pop up and they are talents to be excited about,” she tells BBC Scotland’s Fair Play: The Women in Sport podcast.

The team pursuit gold medallist from Rio admits that her own mindset took a knock when the Tokyo Olympics were put in doubt as the Covid-19 outbreak took hold worldwide.

“I can speak quite positively about it now,” she says. “At the start, I found it tough – I missed team-mates, I missed the structure I built around team training, human interaction.

“That’s now on the horizon again, so I’m quite excited about the return to team training.”

Having been based in Manchester for most of the time since she was 19, Archibald has enjoyed being home in Glasgow during lockdown despite “struggling” without the motivation provided by team-mates.

“I’ve been really fortunate in that I live with my partner, who is a cycling coach and trains himself,” she says. “There have been bad moments in lockdown, but it’s helped us both I think and made us both a bit stronger.”

Archibald also admits she was “in denial for quite a long time” about the fact that the Olympics, “the thing you’ve built your life around for the last four years”, was not going to go ahead in 2020.

“What’s comforting now is that, now we are building round to Tokyo, it feels a little bit like resetting and putting the clock back,” she says. “I’ve come to terms with it a lot better now.”

Archibald won a silver medal in the team pursuit at this year’s World Championships and is hoping to repeat the kind of performance in Tokyo that won her gold in Rio – and the world madison title two years ago.

She says the Olympic delay has allowed her more time to study potential tactics for both events.

“The madison encapsulates track cycling – it’s all the speed, tactics, technical elements – it’s my favourite thing in the world,” she adds of the event, which will be making its debut as part of the women’s Olympic program.