Olympic team sprint champion Jamie Staff plans to open a cycling academy once he retires to help provide inspiration to young riders and would-be cyclists in Kent. The facility could be in place by Autumn 2011, although the 39-year-old cyclist insists he has no plans to retire just yet.
According to the newspaper Kent on Sunday, the 39-year-old Staff, who comes from Ashford, wants to encourage the county’s youngsters to get on their bikes and is hopeful that his planned initiative, to be called the Jamie Staff Academy, can be incorporated within the £11 million A2 Activity Outdoor Community Sports Park currently being built near Gravesend. That would be a boost for the park’s developers, who in October were reported to be considering scaling back the extent of the project due to a potential funding shortfall.
Rather than concentrating upon a specific discipline, Staff says the academy would cater for BMX, road racing and mountain biking, as well as riding on the track, and he believes that it would not only bring more people into cycling, but also help provide a legacy from Team GB’s recent successes including the Beijing Olympics.
Staff himself started out in BMX, competing regularly in the US and winning the World Championship in 1996, before switching to the track full-time in 2001 to pursue his dreams of an Olympic medal, in te days before BMX was included in the programme.
“I want to pass on the skills and knowledge I have picked up to younger riders,” Staff said. “I am coming towards the end of my career and have sat down and decided I would like to go into coaching once I retire. I feel information, like how to deal with the psychological side of the sport, is an untapped area which needs to be taught to youngsters.”
He continued, “we hope to base the academy in Kent because there is not an awful lot going on in the county for cycling. I would like to take part in some sessions and I hope some of the coaches from British Cycling will become a part of it too.
“At the moment cycling is riding the crest of a wave from the Olympics,” added Staff, “but academies like this need to be set up to keep people interested and get involved with the sport.
“There are similar academies beginning to emerge and if we’re successful we could take it across the country, or even worldwide,” he concluded.
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.