Kyle Gordon reckons throwing all his eggs in the Commonwealth Games basket paid off after earning Team Scotland selection.
Gordon is one of six elite cyclists from the north who will don Scotland jerseys at the Games, which are being held in Birmingham but the cycling takes place 130 miles away at the Lee Valley Velodrome in London.
Aberdeen’s Neil Fachie will look to defend his tandem sprint and kilo titles, which he won in Glasgow and the Gold Coast, and strengthen his legacy as one of Great Britain’s best ever para-athletes.
Neah Evans, who won silver and bronze four years ago as well as Olympic silver in Tokyo, will be a strong medal hopeful in the women’s endurance events.
Lauren Bell, from Forres, will be in the women’s sprint team, while Highlanders Gordon and Finn Crockett are also included in the 20-strong squad.
Aviemore’s Ellie Stone has also been named as a pilot for one of Team Scotland’s para-riders.
For Alness rider Gordon, this will be his second Games and he comes into it a better rider than he was the first time around.
He has hit the qualifying standard eight times and will take part in the men’s endurance events – individual pursuit, points race and scratch race – in Birmingham.
‘I was buzzing’
“I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks but couldn’t say anything until yesterday,” said Gordon. “It’s nice to be able to tell people now. I had a few people to contact and officially let them know, who’ve played a part in my journey. It was only right to let them know as soon as possible.
“The qualifying window opened round about April 2021, so as soon as I knew what the criteria was we had to meet, I went full commitment towards qualifying.
“I basically reverse-engineered what I had to achieve and where the events were in the world that I was able to go to and attempt to achieve the qualification standard.
“The qualifying standard for the pursuit was 4:17.00 and it has to be done a minimum of two times in competition. I was competing for the Scotland UCI track team out in Russia in July and came away pretty happy with a 4:12.50.
“I was buzzing and came away thinking ‘I’ve hit a time I could only dream of’. What could actually be possible now?
“I got pretty hungry to go faster; I went out to Switzerland and picked up another couple of small PBs. There was another two at the British Championships and then a 4:10.00 at the Track Nations Cup in Glasgow.
“I threw all my eggs in one basket aiming to qualify and I’ve qualified eight times in total.”
Qualifying a ‘weight off your shoulders’
His fellow Ross-shire native Crockett will be part of Team Scotland in the men’s road race. Crockett, from Strathpeffer, is the top-ranked elite men’s rider in Britain this year after several impressive victories.
Bell was a British champion at the National Track Cycling championships in 2020 and was on the podium at the Track Nations Cup in Glasgow last month.
“We found out a wee while ago so it’s nice to be able to tell everyone I’ve been selected,” she said. “I told my close friends and family – they’re the most important ones you want to know as they’ve helped you along the way.
“Once you’ve ticked off the qualification standard – Scotland do it a bit differently, so once you’ve hit two of the qualification times, it’s just a bit of a weight off your shoulders.
“I was delighted; I’d already hit two of my qualifications but we hadn’t done it as a team for the sprint. At the British Championships, that was one of the last times we’d be riding together as a team and luckily we were able to get the qualifying time then.
“Everything was going pretty well after the British Championships in 2020 then we went into lockdown. But it was lucky as my results got me on to British Cycling in the April.
“Lockdown training wasn’t ideal but I’m just grateful now we’re back training and on the track. I moved down to Manchester to train with British Cycling, which has been great.
“I’ve been able to go to more competitions and everything getting back up and running. They’re exciting times ahead.”