A golden summer
Sky Sports catches up with gold medal winner Ed Clancy to discuss the past, present and future.
Last Updated: 24/08/12 4:45pm
Of the 65 medals Team GB secured at the 2012 Olympics, nine of those were won inside the velodrome.
Ed Clancy claimed two of those gongs - in the team pursuit and omnium - with the Barnsley-born cyclist adding a gold and bronze to the gold he collected in Beijing.
Sky Sports' Chris Burton caught up with a man who has helped to buy into Seb Coe's vision of inspiring a generation to discuss the past, present and future.
Have things calmed down yet or is it still all a bit of a blur?
The three or four days afterwards were a bit of a blur, in terms of meeting the media and going out for a few drinks with the lads. That was a bit of a blur but since then I went out of the Olympic Village and back in for the closing ceremony and then back out, so I've spent a bit of time just chilling out with my friends. It hasn't been that bad. The last week, I have been on my motorbikes and a few bike rides in there, but nothing too intense.
Your profile, and that of a lot of other medal winners, has risen considerably. Is it weird suddenly finding yourself constantly billed as a sporting hero?
It is a little bit strange. We are getting stopped. I was out with Geraint Thomas and there were people queuing up to shake our hands. But when we are outside of our cycling kit it's different. When you are in your normal clothes you kind of go unnoticed. There are a lot of people that have got a bigger profile than me. It's nice that people respect cycling and appreciate what we did, that's really nice, but it's not like I'm getting stopped left, right and centre and I'm under no illusions that I've become a celebrity overnight.
There was so much pressure on the cycling team heading into the Games, how do you go about dealing with the expectation and the intense focus on you?
If you had thought about it you would have gone mad, to be honest. Our psychologist has been a big part of things and you just have to think logically about things. You can spend all day thinking, 'We won in Beijing, people are expecting the same thing, we haven't got Bradley (Wiggins) here anymore, what are we going to do, the Aussies are coming'. But, I know it's pretty boring, but you can only go out there and do your best and that's what you've got to focus on. You've just got to focus on the job in hand rather than outside stuff. Focus on the process rather than the emotion. It's a boring way to think but I almost spent as much time training my brain as I did my legs in the last few weeks. It worked well for me.
Is it possible to block everything out, even when there are 6,000 people going crazy around you?
You can hear the noise but you don't really pay attention to it. I didn't, I was in a strange little bubble, in the zone. I can't explain what it is, but you are just so focused on what you're doing. You can hear the noise but you are just thinking about the race, about decisions you are making, the line, the changes. As soon as you cross the line all you hear is the noise and you put your arms in the air and it's all emotion then. It's a massive explosion of excitement and then you can soak it up. Until then, you know it's there but you don't pay any attention to it. I knew there would be a lot of pressure and expectation and I prepared for it.
It's important to note isn't it that the success in London was a team effort, there are a lot of hard-working people behind the medal winners?
Absolutely, we can't thank those guys enough. It's no coincidence that out of the 10 events we got nine medals on track, and that's not just down to a freaky coincidence, it's the end product of the British cycling system. Lottery funding has been a big part of our success and that will continue to Rio, which is great news. We have great people at the top, senior management, who recruit the best physios, best sports scientists, best technical guys and when you put it together it makes our life easier. As long as we are doing what we're told and putting a lot of hard work in, we have got a lot to be grateful for.
After experiencing those nights inside the velodrome and the highest of highs, how do you go about motivating yourself to set new targets?
It's a good question. After Beijing it kind of felt pretty flat. I think I made the mistake after Beijing of thinking what am I going to do - I can either sit back and be bored or plough on and try to get more gold medals and more world records. It doesn't work. You have just got to accept that our programme is based around winning Olympic medals. I'm not saying the 2013 track world championship isn't important, but it's not half as important. In the team pursuit you need four good guys who are motivated and on form. We aren't going to have all the staff, all the training camps, quite rightly we will be saving all the good stuff. I think the best decision I can make right now is to take a couple of weeks out and think logically about where I'm going, what we've done, how hard it's been to get here and what I'm going to do in the next two years. In the guy's team pursuit, we aren't going to keep smashing world records to bits, a lot of our guys are going to go off on the road. I don't know what I'm going to do right now. I'm going to give it a couple of weeks and come to some sort of decision.
The Olympic carrot was hanging there for so long, it must be tough going back to day one and starting out on another four-year cycle?
That's why it's important that we take our foot off the gas, or if you feel like taking your foot off the gas, do it. You can't start training now for Rio, it's too far. As long as you are fit and healthy, you can turn yourself into a world-class athlete in about four or five months. In the team pursuit, you can't do it on your own and no matter how motivated you are, you have got to have the whole team around you to do it. It does feel weird not having that big carrot waiting for us. It does feel good, though, to have done it and I'm looking forward to doing the things I haven't been able to do for the last couple of years. I'm not going to complain and I'm much happier looking back on London and thinking that was a good experience rather than a missed opportunity.It's important to take time out and take steady steps towards Rio isn't it? There is no point going out and smashing the world record next week.
Not really, no. No-one will be watching for a start and it just won't happen. It depends. I will be riding a bike and for sure I want to go to Rio and do similar things, but it's just a question of how do you get to Rio? Do I do a couple of years on the road and come back to the track? Do I keep doing what I'm doing, do the track worlds and keep riding the road a little bit at a good national level? Or go completely the other way and look at more sprint-type events on the track? There are plenty of roads to go down. If you start to jump into decisions now it's probably going to be the wrong one based on emotional feelings, so we just need to give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done, enjoy this winter at least and then go from there.
Dave Brailsford has been a key figure behind the success of British cycling and a lot of sports want to buy into his methods. Do you expect him to remain part of the cycling set-up?
I'm not sure, you would have to ask Dave about his plans. There are rumours that he will go, then some people say he's going to stay. I think he will stay in cycling in some form or another, whether that will be more towards the Sky road team or stick with road and track, I'm not sure. He's a good guy and whatever happens, the infrastructure he's left behind, should he go, will stand us in good stead for the future. But it's not just Dave - there's Steve Peters, Shane Sutton, Brian Cookson - there are a lot of clever, powerful guys that have been behind all this success. I'm sure we will be okay for Rio.
This generation has been so successful, is the talent pool to kick on in the future?
I think so. In terms of the team pursuit and the endurance side of the track, I'm the oldest at the moment and I'm 27 years old. In theory, I should have at least another Olympics in me, if not two. I think Kenn (Peter Kennaugh) and Steve (Burke) are only 23/24 years old. In terms of the endurance side of cycling, we have got that covered. The women's endurance side? I think they have got that covered as well, I think the oldest girl there is 22/23 years old. On the sprint side, you have got Jason Kenny and he's 24/25 still and he could go on to become the next Chris Hoy for sure. In terms of the next Olympics we are fine. Looking at the one after Rio? Eight years is a long time away and a lot could change by then. We will have some good riders. I'm not saying Chris Hoy and Vicky Pendleton won't be missed because they will - you have only got to look at what they achieve every time they get on the boards - but I think there are some good riders ready to step into their shoes at some point.
Can you sum up what the summer has been like and how it feels to be a central figure in the success?
After Beijing there was a lot of pressure and expectation but all of that was pushed to the back of the mind. What a great opportunity we've had to do what we do best, what we train day in, day out for, and put on a show at a cracking velodrome in front of all our home fans and friends and family. It's something that will never be repeated, whatever happens in Rio or afterwards we are going to do well to top that experience. It's been a great summer.
Ed Clancy is an ambassador of the Bupa and UK Sport Partnership. Over the past decade, Bupa has covered more than 29,000 treatments for Britain's elite athletes. www.bupa.co.uk