Graeme Obree is to stand for election as Rector of Glasgow University, where he studied during the 1980s. The former world individual pursuit champion and Hour record holder has been nominated to the three-year post by two student societies, the Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA) and the Glasgow University Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans, Queer, Plus Society ( GU LGBTQ+).
The 48-year-old father of two, who lives in Ayrshire, came out publicly as being gay in early 2011 after decades battling depression, twice leading him to attempt suicide, with his story related in the 2006 film, The Flying Scotsman, based on his autobiography.
In recent years, Obree has raised his public profile after spending more than a decade out of the spotlight after he walked away from the sport in the mid-1990s, disillusioned after joining French team le Groupement whose management made it clear he was expected to dope.
Earlier this year, he set a new International Human Powered Vehicle Association record for the fastest ride in the prone position, travelling at 56.62mph on his recumbent bike Beastie, which he had designed and built himself.
In a press release, GUSA and GU LGBTQ+ outlined three key reasons for nominating the 48-year-old, who revealed in early 2011 that he is gay after years of battling depression, twice leading him to attempt suicide:
To promote excellence and participation in Sport. It is a time of great progress and development of sport at the University of Glasgow and as Rector we feel that Graeme will promote excellence and participation in sport for the students of the University and help capitalise on the legacy of the Commonwealth Games, highlighting the importance of sport in student life in this most important of sporting years.
To promote diversity. Graeme is still one of very few openly gay athletes and as Rector he will help promote diversity, not just in university sport, but across campus for all our students. We hope that his election will also demonstrate to the world that in Glasgow we celebrate our sporting heroes, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that no visitor to our proud City should fear discrimination.
To give students a voice. As a young undergraduate at the University in the late 1980s, Graeme still recalls the pressure he faced and the impact it had on his wellbeing. Graeme has fought his own well-publicised battle with mental health and has helped channel this experience to make him the inspirational and motivational figure he is today. Graeme is passionate about making a difference to the lives of young people and he will provide an accessible, powerful and compassionate voice to the students of the University.
According to GUSA and GULBTQ+, “Graeme will bring a fresh perspective to an ancient position,” which dates back to 1648. Past holders of the office include political rivals Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone, the actors Ross Kemp and Richard Wilson, and Winnie Mandela. The current rector is former Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy.
The election takes place on 17 and 18 February.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.