In this show I interview Katie Archibald, who should need no introduction – multiple European champion on the track, a gold medallist in the Team Pursuit at the Rio olympics and recently crowned World Champion in the omnium.

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I net Katie during a talk to 3 primary schools – Ladywell, St Bernadette’s and another Motherwell school. She was there to encourage them to have a shot on their bikes, down at the velodrome or on the course at the Motherwell Tour Series on Tuesday 23rd May.

Katie Archibald talk to school children in Motherwell

I’ll be there in a work capacity, for my employers Robertson Group, a construction company that have contracts with North Lanarkshire Council, who are hosting the race. I hope to catch up with some of you on the day.

Katie Archibald, Ladywell Primary, Tour Series Motherwell launch

Katie told a few stories to the children that I hadn’t heard:

She started at the Shotts highland games
Aged 16, got a head start, and won!
That taste for winning was what really fired her

Then not winning for the next 2 years!
The message was perseverance – you don’t win every time
And so long as you enjoy it you will be motivated to keep trying

Then aged 18, in 2012, she won the Scottish Junior pursuit championships
And was approached by Scottish cycling to aim for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games

At Glasgow 2014 she won a Bronze medal in the points race
This was her favourite race and win – the hardest fought!
Her lunge for the line on the final lap gave her 5 points and the bronze medal
And her roommate Elinor Barker, her some time teammate team GB won gold – turning a friendship into a rivalry, temporarily.
Brief highlights here:

Katie Archibald bronze medal Glasgow 2014 Points

Rio 2016 was the next target and on the path to this was one of the most interesting stories where she talked about her appreciation for the sport and sense of gratitude about what she has.

A Motorbike crash in December 2015 could have prevented her competing in Rio:

Telegraph story
Daily Record – on the crash
Daily Record – looking back after the gold
Herald – an overview and some philosophical thoughts about life

Coach Shane Sutton described it at the time as “crazy” and “a really bad choice on her part”. Sutton is of course now under the spotlight for alleged bullying and sexism in the team GB squad and you can imagine he wouldn’t have had much time or sympathy for this sort of accident, to put it mildly.

I must confess that at the time I was taken in by the picture the press painted of katie, as a maverick non-conformist with her coloured hair, tatoos and piercings. This is bullshit though, quite frankly – I know lots of people with piercings and tatoos and they are perfectly normal people, all with different personalities, some introverted, some outward going.

So, I changed my mind entirely hearing her tell the story to the school children. In general she came across as humble and honest person and – I detected a tinge of emoton when she retold it, and that she called up her coach saying ‘I’ve done a stupid thing’.

She cited the potential to miss the olympics – a potential disaster – to realise what it meant to her. I think this is a common thing for all of us and is a reminder to appreciate what you have, whether that’s the opportunity competing at the highest level or simply the ability to ride a bike at the weekend.

The injury was a pretty bad one – she rupture a posterior cruciate ligament and fractured her elbow and was out of the squad for a while but came back to make the team for Rio in late summer.

She was able to return to fitness and get back into the team where she won gold in the women’s team pursuit with a world record time.

IMG_20170419_104647

Then in 2017 she became the first Scottish woman to win an individual senior gold medal in the world championships in the omnium*. I was surprised to find myself feeling emotional when I heard her say this – it’s probably because I have two young daughters myself, that I am more acutely aware of the need to level the playing field and create equal opportunities for women in sport, and in life generally to be honest.

*although Rita Montgomery from Johnstone won the Women’s Veteran World Championship Road Race in Austria in the 1980’s, and Katie herself had won gold in the team pursuit at Cali, Colombia in 2014.

Katie Archibald World Omnium champion medal 2017

The interview
The worlds omnium – a great spectacle – exciting to watch

Is a solo win at worlds a big thing?
Yes, but, prefers training, racing and winning as a team

I asked about inspiring the kids, and at what point does that become a part of the job? With lottery funding, athletes are required to do about 10 events per year to promote sport and healthy lifestyles. There’s an interesting parallel with my employer, a construction company here. As part of many public sector contracts, construction firms are required to do community development, for example education of primary or senior school children about safety, construction careers. Or providing work placements or apprentices to college or university students or school leavers.

City of Edinburgh racing club
She referenced Brian Annable, club secretary, who received an OBE in 2013 for services to cycling.
Eileen Roe
Chris Hoy
Craig Maclean
John Paul
Callum Skinner
Jenny Davis
Charlene Joiner
… to name but a few

Now the track is over…
It’s the road season and her t road team is WNT

See her in Motherwell on 23rd May

And in the Tour of Britain on the 3rd September, starting in Edinburgh.