Pitch to peloton?

Sport-swap scheme could turn footballers into cyclists

Cycling’s Olympic and Commonwealth medalists of the future could have started out dreaming of becoming the next David Beckham.

Apprentice footballers who fail to make it as professionals could transfer their sporting skills to cycling under the Pitch2Podium scheme run by UK Sport, the English and Scottish Institutes of Sport and partners within the football and rugby authorities.

The initiative, which made its Scottish debut in Glasgow yesterday, aims to propel football and rugby players who miss out on professional careers in those sports, into other disciplines, including cycling. As the title suggests, the Olympic and Commonwealth Games are very much in the scheme’s sights.

If he had not broken through as the new star of Arsenal, Theo Walcott may have been able to transfer his explosive power on the pitch to the peloton. The sprint power of a Chris Hoy or the endurance of a Nicole Cooke are two qualities which many footballers have.

Every year, hundreds of apprentice footballers are released by clubs who decide they do not have what it takes to become full-time professionals, and in current economic conditions that number is unlikely to go down.

Players attending the Scottish launch event in Glasgow were tested on several different aspects of their performance, to see which sports they would be suited for. Beforehand, they were treated to a short talk by Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Paul Manning, who cited team-mate Rebecca Romero as a successful example of changing sports. Romero was a rowing world champion before she took to cycling. Manning, meanwhile, won swimming medals before turning his focus to cycling.

Through another initiative, Gold4Glasgow, the Scottish Institute of Sport also hopes to identify athletes capable of representing Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The programme's first event, to be held at the Stirling Sports Village on May 3, will focus on women's cycling.

Other athletes who have switched sports:

Darren Campbell played for Plymouth Argyle before returning to athletics in 1995 and going on to win Olympic gold.

Kévin Sireau, a French youth footballer swapped to track cycling and won an Olympic silver medal in Beijing.

David Price, released by Liverpool FC, switched his efforts to boxing, going on to win Olympic bronze.

Sir Steve Redgrave, Britain’s greatest ever Olympian, profited from an early involvement in rugby before turning to rowing.

For more information or to apply online, visit or email pitch2podium [at] for details.

Latest Comments

  • hirsute 20 min 16 sec ago

    Being unusually hopeful, it could be they are fixing it and are starting with the main traffic which is phone based, then moving on to pcs.

  • Mathemagician 24 min 16 sec ago

    Hmm...actually according to the compatibility charts it won't work:...

  • eburtthebike 41 min 4 sec ago

    Quite, and what if the cyclist has a mirror? I'd love to have had a discussion with one of those officers if they'd stopped me for words of advice.

  • eburtthebike 43 min 49 sec ago

    Unless SGlos council have spent a few million on cycle infrastructure in that area in the past year, then no, it isn't very good, in fact most of...

  • qwerty360 50 min 17 sec ago

    The reversing truck is stuck as the road is busses only from that point. They were doing the safest maneveur (given they can't turn around on Tower...

  • kil0ran 1 hour 9 min ago

    Generally you can always use a tube in a tubeless rim with a tubeless compatible tyre as sometimes you'll have such a catastrophic failure that...

  • RobD 1 hour 10 min ago

    Once you get the basic principles it's quite straightforward, scoop has no cut out, line has the channel, the radius, shallow or flat is how curvy...

  • kil0ran 1 hour 24 min ago

    With that average speed I'd say that any aero benefits will be minimal, unless you ride somewhere very hilly and that's dropping your average. That...

  • leqin 1 hour 52 min ago

    How long do we have to put up with this sort of crap. They are not a fucking watchdog if all they do is cart blanch allow one of the newspapers,...

  • slitemere 2 hours 51 min ago

    Doubles and tripls will never die. The only reason SRAM went for 1x was that they have never been able to make a good quality front mech....