It’s a strange, strange thing sport.
When Nicole Cooke crossed the line, first, at the very beginning of the Olympics, to win Great Britain’s first Gold Medal, I thought that nothing would be easier than writing about success.
Not the case. I can’t count how many times I’ve settled in of an evening to try and capture the elation and utter wondrousness of the victories that followed Nicole’s success – not just for the cyclists, but for the rowers, the sailors, canoeists, swimmers, a track athlete or two, the boxers, the gymnast oh, and the chappesses and one chap on horses.
In every walk of life there are ways to excel. In music this could be an exquisite Mozart opus, the ultimate Beethoven concerto, the aria from heaven in a Puccini opera, or perhaps Abba’s perfect pop song: Take a Chance on Me. (Fill your own personal favourite in here).
In sport there are a few rare occasions when it all comes together in that symphony of divine excellence and we have had a rare chance of enjoying a British master class in perfection during these Olympics..
Orchestrated by behind-the-scenes directors Dave Brailsford, Peter Keen, Shane Sutton and the other coaches, played out by the cyclists: Cooke, Pooley, Hoy, Pendleton, Wiggins, Newton, Romero and the rest, and conducted by the maestro and wizard of the wheels: Chris Boardman, the Cyclists have shown the world how to win and win big.
The signs were there last March at the World Championships held at the Manchester Velodrome. The British cyclists won virtually everything. Hoy, Wiggins and Pendleton got double golds. Jamie Staff and Cav got medals too.
These guys and gals went to Beijing with a target on their back. As did our rowers. Loads of medals in World Championships. Everyone wanted to beat us. Everyone wanted to stop dreams coming true.
The thing is (and I hated that phrase when I worked in corporate .. it was all about the Thing) that for the last few years British cycling has really been getting it right and in a big way.
One man has been the inspiration for so many.
Barcelona – Boardman. Say no more.
One ride was enough to inspire Bradley Wiggins – a mere boy at the time – to have an Olympic dream. Chris Boardman won Gold in Barcelona, won stages in Le Tour, and did the ultimate for track cyclists. He got the Hour.
And he has, despite the physical infirmities that his career in cycling have left him with, stuck with this sport. He has become the maestro of all maestros, the leader of the “secret squirrels” who find ways for GB cyclists to eke out that little bit extra.
Hard to know what it was that did it for the British cyclists. Every little extra bit of technology, every bit of skill and pride and determination not to fail. To deliver on Chris Boardman’s promise of giving them the best in bikes, the best in skill, and the best in motivation.
Doesn’t matter now, does it? They won utterly clean.
Seven Golds, three silvers, two bronzes.
Chris Hoy – Triple gold.
Bradley Wiggins – double gold.
World records in the sprint and the pursuit.
Victoria Pendleton – won her gold and the grudge match against the Aussies (Mears – you know what you did – or what your sister did, and that was mean, mean mean).
We came away from the velodrome with only one failure. Brad and Cav in the Madison, but it was always an ask too much there is a limit to even Wiggo’s legs. What did Cav do in response?
Sprint win of Stage One of the Tour of Ireland.
So that’s what our cyclists do when they don’t win. Go win!!
It is such a joy to have a chance, maybe my chance of a lifetime, to write about such world beaters – in a sport of mine!
I don’t take anything away from the rowers, sailors, canoeists, but they are not my sport. Cycling is what I do – it’s why I nurse my broken collar bone.
They – the rest of the world, the Australians – said after Manchester, that we would flop and fail in Beijing.
They are now looking so closely at our programme. The Aussies have put loads of money up to Dave Brailsford to go work for them.
Dave says no. He wants to be part of 2012 and says it would be wrong and all wrong to work for the Aussies.
I hope that’s a truth.
On the track we are a world-beating squad. No question. And with Nicole and Emma and The Manx Express we are pretty world beating on the road.
I guess what I’ll do now, when my leg is mended, is be on the bike, ride some of Phil Liggett’s “killermeters” and enjoy my cycling.
Boy, what a year for us in cycling. Just win win win or so it seems.
Guess Phil might have a rethink about retiring.