Continuing with our series of interviews with the Scottish riders who we hope will be making the headlines on The Gold Coast in Australia come the spring, in this article – our 2,000th on VeloVeritas! – we speak to 20 year-old Paisley rider, Jack Carlin who’s rapidly making a name for himself in that shortest but most savage of disciplines, the team sprint.
I believe you came in to cycling to rehabilitate from sports injuries, Jack?
“I broke both ankles messing around on the playing fields so I took up the bike as active recovery.”
And the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 were a big inspiration to you?
“Yes, I watched the racing from the stands and thought; ‘that’s what I really want to do,’ I’d trained with the Scottish team as a junior.
“My progression really began from there, I went from the Scottish Junior Performance Squad to the GB Olympic Development Programme to the Podium Programme where I am now.”
How/why the track?
“Originally I was into mountain biking then I started to ride the tarmac, unbanked track at Bellahouston.
“The first real track I rode was Meadowbank in Edinburgh – and of course, when the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome opened in Glasgow I began to ride there in the track league.”
Do you remember the first time you began to think that you could make the grade?
“I suppose that would be at the Scottish National Track Championships where I took two silver medals in the u16 sprint event.
“From there, Kevin Stewart took over coaching me – he’s now coaching with British Cycling.”
Was there a particular ride or rides that got you on to the GB squad?
“That’s not really how they view it, rather than results what they’re looking at is your potential – what they think you may be able achieve if they take you on and develop you.”
When Craig Maclean was ‘doing the business’ in the sprint events we spoke to him regularly and he mentioned the constant pressure to produce the required times when you’re on the squad.
“I wouldn’t say that I feel under pressure to perform; if you’re an elite athlete then the pressure to perform comes from within – you want to be the best you can be.
“And we’re only halfway through the Olympic cycle so much of what I’m doing is still a learning experience.”
How do you feel about not actually racing very often?
“As sprinters, particularly my role as ‘man one’ in the team sprint you have to spend a lot of time in the weight room to get the power and strength to weight ratio to be competitive – you have to be strong but you can’t be too heavy either because you have to accelerate your mass of the line very, very quickly.
“The training means that you can peak once, maybe twice each season – you’ll ride other races but still be training in the gym, you’re not realising your full potential – but we have to accrue World Cup points to qualify for The Worlds.
“As well as weights there’s a lot of technical work in training, particularly working on our starts, getting out of the gate as fast as possible.
“The other thing you have to remember is that these days there aren’t that many track competitions to ride.”
Your major palmares:
- 3rd European Junior Team Sprint
- 1st European u23 Team Sprint
- 2nd European Elite Team Sprint
- 1st Glasgow World Cup Team Sprint
- 1st Apeldoorn World Cup Team Sprint
- 1st European u23 Team Sprint
- 1st European u23 Keirin
Have I missed anything?
“Yes, the recent World Cups in Poland and Canada – we were third in the team sprint in Poland and then in Canada we were second; and I took third in the individual sprint in Canada.”
Are the keirin and individual sprint events you’d like to ride more of in the future?
“One hundred percent!
“The team sprint is the priority but for the Olympics you have to ride one other discipline so whilst the main focus is the team race I have to develop in those disciplines too.”
The Commonwealth Games – the individual sprint and keirin will be your events on the Gold Coast but can Scotland field a team sprint squad? You, Callum Skinner and Jonny Wale perhaps?
“The keirin and individual sprint for sure; as for the team sprint, Scottish Cycling might or might not field a team.
“From a technical perspective both Callum and Jonny have the physiology to be ‘men three’ for a team sprint whilst I can take the role of man one or two – but it’s getting someone to take on the man two position…”
Is the kilometre something you’d like to develop?
“I’m not really a kilometre rider, I’d be OK for the first two laps but after that…
“That said, I believe the kilometre will be the final event at The Games and each nation gets three riders per discipline so it’s possible.”
The Worlds are in Apeldoorn at the end of February/beginning of March then The Games are at the start of April; two peaks, close together – tricky?
“Yes, we have around three weeks between the two competitions; but I think you have to view it as one peak which you maintain form through – I think it might work out well.”
What’s 2008 about for you?
“The Worlds team sprint and riding the Commonwealth Games for Scotland – selection in January permitting – the individual sprint, keirin and perhaps the team sprint.
“It’ll be a great honour to represent my country, I’ve never represented Scotland at senior level, I have as a junior in Revolution meetings but this will be my first time as a senior.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
With thanks to Jack for his time – and as with all the Scottish squad, VeloVeritas wishes him well for Apeldoorn and The Gold Coast.