The “Chris Hoy effect,” is Scottish Cycling capitalising on it?
We decided to speak to British Cycling’s new Olympic talent scout for Scotland, Mark McKay.
You weren’t a bad amateur yourself Mark?
“I won the Star Trophy in 1992 and had some decent wins; I won the Tour of the Cotswolds, but it’s a long time ago now and I forget all the individual results.”
You rode pro, too.
“I was individually sponsored by Diamond Back in ’94 and I guested for Raleigh that year too.
“In ’95 I was with Ribble, ’96 and ’97 was Ambrosia, then ’98 and ’99 was Harrods.
“My best results would be The Cotswolds and a couple of stages in the Ras; I was second overall in the Ras too.”
Did you ever think about going to the continent?
“I thought about it, but I was doing OK in the UK.
“Although I did get the opportunity to race in Canada in ’90 and ’91 – the scene there was good at the time and I enjoyed it.”
After your pro career, you turned to duathlon.
“I started to do a bit of running and joined a local club; they persuade me to get into duathlon and I managed to win the national title. I also made the podium of the 2005 Worlds, but I sustained an injury during that race and haven’t competed since.”
Then you had Mark McKay Training, in France.
“Yes, near Perpignan. I was made redundant from my job in insurance so my wife and I decided to start up a business where we ran training camps.
“We did our research and decided on that region of France. We bought a house there and started to run the camps; we were there for two-and-half years. Also, around that time, British Triathlon asked me to do consultancy for them.
“After a couple of years, I could see that there wasn’t really a future for me with them, though. The training camps business was steady, but we weren’t making a good living from them. When I saw the British Cycling job advertised, I applied for it.”
How are you liking the Scottish weather?
“It’s not that bad, it’s a lot brighter than grey and miserable Northampton where I come from.”
You have a road background, but you’re looking for track talent?
“The base training for track endurance is the same as for road and I have ridden a bit of track in my time. I rode the series at Manchester that preceded the “Revolutions.””
Who was your coaching inspiration?
“Neil Gardiner, he was Scottish chap that lived in Luton, sadly he passed away in 2000. He taught me to be professional in your approach to cycling and to look after yourself.”
What has Scottish Cycling got going for it?
“Scottish Cycling, the organisation has been building its staff with a view towards the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow; there are some very enthusiastic people there.
“I’m too new in the role to have seen a “Chris Hoy effect,” but I can tell you that we have a training camp coming up where we’ve invited 50 riders in the 13 to 16 age group, with those type of numbers, the future looks bright.”
Isn’t it a hassle, there not being a covered track?
“Of course, we use up a lot of time on the road to Manchester and back.
“As far as we understand it though, there will be a new, covered velodrome built in Glasgow, for the Commonwealth Games.”
What would make your job a success?
“Getting a handful of riders onto the GB Olympic programme would be a great, but one would be a result.”
We wish Mark well; and is there another Sir Chris among those 50 youngsters?