Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeInterviewsGary Willis - SCU National Development Coach

Gary Willis – SCU National Development Coach

-

Gary Willis
Gary’s juniors meet at the velodrome before a training session.

The last few seasons have seen few youths or juniors names grace the start sheets in Scotland, but 2006 saw a few of those ‘green shoots of recovery’ the politicians tell us about. The man charged with nurturing the crop is Gary Willis, so VeloVeritas decided we should ask him some questions.

First off, we spoke a little about the job itself.

What’s your job title and remit, Gary?

“Well, I’m the ‘National Development Coach’, and my remit is to work with riders aged between 13 and 17, specifically towards getting them onto the GB programmes, World Class plan, and the like. I started in the role in June of this year.”

Sounds quite a challenge. What’s your background?

“I came into road racing from mountain biking, and went to university where I did a Sports degree.”

Gary Willis
The Scottish Juniors ride up through Holyrood Park.

Things have been a bit fallow young rider-wise for the last year or two in Scotland, there’s been the odd flash of promise or better, but not quite the steady flow which we all want to see.

“Yes, but I think this year is much better. It’s a sign of the times that of the nine riders on the programme, only one came from a road background – most riders come in through track racing or mountain biking”.

Where does your funding come from?

“It comes from Sports Scotland, a percentage is lottery money and the rest comes from the Government.” It’s a fantastic situation, where our young riders are actually getting more help than the odd tyre, jersey, or life to the race (here at VeloVeritas we all remember those times).”

What sort of help do the riders actually get then?

“We give them training programmes and hold a couple of training camps each month for them. We provide kit too (VeloVeritas has spotted the young squad out hammering around the lanes of East Lothian, and look the part they certainly do), but probably the most important thing we provide is a programme of races at British and International level.”

The SCU Junior squad tackles Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

“We already have a programme for next year mapped-out. This year we took a Scottish junior squad down to the British team pursuit championship for example, that was a good experience, which we’ll be repeating.”

Do you have anyone at WCPP level yet?

“No, not yet, but that’s what we are working towards.”

How then do you plan to get young riders into the sport?

“Well, through the clubs and development teams, like for example the ‘Edinburgh Racers’ at Meadowbank.”

Just like any serious plan, and in order to secure the funding and commitment required, Gary has set out short-, mid-, and long-term goals:

“The three targets we are working towards are 2010, the Commonwealth Games in Delhi; 2012, The London Olympics and 2014 when the Commonwealth Games will hopefully be in Glasgow. We are working towards having riders in all these events.”

Thanks very much for your time Gary. VeloVeritas hopes to be reporting on the successes of your young charges for a long time to come.

Ed Hood
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 47 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, a team manager, and a sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days for some of the world's top riders. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Phil Trodden – From Rugby to Cycling to National Championship Medals in Two Seasons!

"Hey Ed, hope you are well? Just thought I'd let you know the Scottish guys are racing Ras Muhman this weekend, a four day over in Ireland. Phil Trodden in particular is riding for Scotland. I don't know if you know Phil, but he is an absolute gent and a proper racer..." That was the message from British Points Race Champion, Mark Stewart – best not argue with those trackies, they can get very emotional – so we dropped Phil a line and here’s what he had to say to us.

Oscar Onley – Looking Forward to 2021 with Sunweb’s u23 Team

Oscar Onley recently caught the attention of many, including Team Sunweb, with his win at Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc cycle sportive, a mountain time trial that took place on the same course as the final stage of the elite men’s race of the same name. For season 2021 Oscar will be riding with the World Tour Team’s u23 development squad.

Sandy Wallace, the Perfect Friend

It’s with much sadness that VeloVeritas records the passing of Fife and Scottish cycling stalwart, Sandy Wallace. We thought we should ask just a few of those whose lives were touched by the man to give us their tributes...

Kathy Gilchrist – the New Scottish Cycling President

The name ‘Gilchrist’ is a famous one in Scottish Cycling with Mr. Sandy Gilchrist, star of road, track and time trial, as one of its most lauded sons. And now there’s another Gilchrist making the headlines in Scottish Cycling, Sandy’s US born wife, Kathy was recently elected President of Scottish Cycling.

Craig Grieve – Spokes Racing Team Owner

Craig Grieve is the man at the helm of Spokes Cycles, with branches in St. Andrews and Dundee, and manager of the successful junior Spokes Racing Team through which so much talent has passed. Craig raced ‘back in the day’, paying his dues in Belgium and The Netherlands in those 240 rider, warp-speed criteriums.

Matti Dobbins – Young Scot is trialling with Team GB

The good news is that Scotland is eligible to field a team in the UCI Track Nations Cup events and encouragingly, we have around a dozen riders vying for a ride. One of those on the squad is 19 year-old Matti Dobbins from Bridge of Weir, who as a junior was a Scottish track champion across multi-disciplines and has been trialling with the GB squad at Manchester, focusing on making the GB and Scottish Team Pursuit squads.

At Random

A Wander Through Robert Millar’s Palmarès

Drew Wilson’s ‘Robert Millar Appreciation Group’ has generated a lot of interest on FaceBook, with 1,185 members - by now everyone must know he was Britain’s greatest stage race rider until Team Sky and their marginal gains came along – we had another name for that ‘back in the day’...

David Hewett Blog – Full Steam Ahead

Welcome back, hopefully I’ll manage to keep this month’s blog post update reasonably brief for once as there’s no real drama to talk about. Instead, I’ve just had a solid month of pretty consistent training and racing, with one or two decent results thrown in for good measure. The form has been a little bit patchy, with a handful of days of slight fatigue balancing out periods where I had great legs, but on the whole it has been a relatively successful month.

James McCallum – on His Third Place at Rutland

We always like to celebrate great rides by great riders, particularly when they're friends or we feel a connection with them for one reason or another, so when VeloVeritas regular James McCallum (Rapha Condor Sharp) bagged third place in the super-tough UCI Europe Tour-ranked Rutland - Melton International CiCLE Classic yesterday, we knew we had to find out what happened.

Edinburgh Nocturne Criterium – Preview

A phone call from Craig MacLean the other day; "I'll be up in Edinburgh on Monday morning, to do some promo for the Edinburgh Nocturne races at the end of the month, fancy catching up?" For sure mate. And so I pottered along to the press launch of the Nocturne event today, which centered around an exhibition of roller racing, with the wonderful backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

Stuart Balfour – World Road Championships Breakaway Driver

Perhaps it was the ‘Scottish’ weather at Harrogate which made the Scots perform so well at the recent World Road Championships? Stuart Balfour spent much of his u23 Championship ‘up the road’ to help set up GB team leader, Tom Pidcock for his eventual bronze medal; Balfour finished in 39th spot.

The VV View: Astana, CAS and Righteous Indignation

Righteous indignation - we’re all good at it. The Astana situation gives us the opportunity to use words like ‘scandal,’ ‘disgrace,’ ‘joke,’ ‘appalling’ and all the rest. Here’s the ‘but’: whilst here at VeloVeritas we’re not card carrying members of the UCI and Brian Cookson Fan Clubs we do understand that that the organisation has to work within a framework called ‘rules.’