Gary Coltman: It's time to put new young Scottish cyclists on the map
New Scottish Cycling head of peformance also wants to find Sir Chris Hoy a new role in the team
Scottish Cycling's new Head of Performance Gary Coltman has said he's on the lookout for the next Chris Hoy - and that means looking for talent among young teenage riders.
He told the Daily Record that being picked out for glory at a young age didn't have to mean an isolated, pressured childhood.
He said: “It’s not about coming to Glasgow and staying here four days a week, if you live in Inverness or somewhere. We’re not looking at centres where we take people out of school and fast-track them.
“It’s about fitting cycling into normal life. The important thing is to have a good club, a good group of mates and to love racing your bike.
“The biggest thing for us is that the athletes fit their cycling around their education and we encourage them to continue through to 18, as that gives them an option to go to university.
“In Manchester, at that age, if they’re good enough to be selected for the academy, then that’s when the
“At age 14 or 15 we encourage them to take control of their career and make decisions for themselves rather than relying on their parents. Then, when they’re 18 or 19, they can step on the gas.
"There’s no point stepping on the gas at 14 or 15. It might win you some junior titles, but they mean nothing in the big picture.”
Gary was poached from British Cycling - the second high profile staffer to leave in recent months.
According to Scottish Cycling, Gary "will be responsible for delivering success against their performance ambition to have Scottish riders achieving medals in major competition and creating world class talent development systems here in Scotland."
“One of the aims is to continue putting names into that GB system and to continue to produce Olympic medallists,” Gary said. “It’s not about saying we’re going to take on British Cycling.
"It’s about building strong partnerships so we can put more Scottish riders on their programme.
“Why wouldn’t we want someone who could potentially be a world-class Scottish athlete to tap into that resource?
“It would be crazy not to want them in there as it increases their chances of being the best they can be and it increases the chances of Scotland winning Commonwealth medals.”
He added that Sir Chris Hoy, despite retiring, would always have a big part to play in the Scottish team.
He said: “If you bring in Chris, even just for one day, his presence would lift everybody and, knowing Chris, he will want to do that.”
It's a timely discussion about the merits of finding talented Scottish athletes. Earlier this month Sir Chris suggested that Scottish athletes might find it more difficult to compete on the global stage were the country to become independent - and found himself embroiled in a row with Scottish Nationalist supporters as a result.
Questioned by the BBC on the likely sporting implications were Scotland to become an independent country Sir Chris had this to say - firstly on the prospects for a Scottish team at the Olympics:
"You look at the results of the Scottish athletes and teams over the years and we have had some fantastic results.
"But it is not quite as simple as having X-amount of medals last time so we can translate that to this amount next time."
Sir Chris Hoy continued: "Most of the athletes have had to move to facilities which are often outside of Scotland. I had to move to Manchester to go to the Velodrome.
"You look at Andy Murray and he spent most of his time in Spain and Miami.
"The first thing you have to do is provide the coaching and infrastructure for the athletes. It is not to say it is impossible. It is just a different challenge."