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Jack Carlin – Silver in the Commonwealth Games Sprint

“All my rides are helping me to build a bank of experience towards Tokyo 2020, which is the big target.“

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Another sprint silver medal for Scottish track star, Jack Carlin.

The man is making a habit of it.

In the Worlds it was to big Australian power house Matt Glaetzer; this time, at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, it was to crafty Kiwi Sam Webster.

Webster is a multiple Commonwealth, Worlds and Olympic medallist in the sprint, team sprint and keirin and has been performing at the highest level on the world stage for a decade; he was a triple world junior champion back in 2009.

Carlin’s name first pops up on the palmares websites as recently as 2015 with third in the sprint at European Junior Track Championship; that’s three years after kilometre world record holder Glaetzer won his first World title in the team sprint.

We get the feeling though that the 21 year-old from Paisley isn’t going to wait much longer on sprint gold.

We caught up with him to discuss his Games rides after his return from a well-earned post-Games holiday.

Congratulations on another great performance, Jack – your Games campaign kicked off well with a win in the first heat of the keirin over the Aussie Schmid and Kiwi Dawkins.

“To be honest, I felt better that I thought I would, I held my form from the Worlds reasonably well but I wasn’t firing on all cylinders, the heat got to me a wee bit and I was cramping here and there.

“The first ride in the keirin is always the hardest, you have to win to get through so it’s good to get that behind you.”

Jack Carlin
Jack with his silver medal. Photo©PA

Then in round two of the keirin you were second to Webster.

“In the semis you aim for top three, just to go through, you do the least you can to save your legs.”

In the final you were fourth with Webster fifth; Glaetzer won – it looked like he’d clean sweep the sprint events (Glaetzer won the keirin and kilometre at the Games, ed.) but the Malaysian lad, Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom put him out in the eighth finals of the individual sprint.

“It was a lack of concentration for a split section on Glaetzer’s part – but the thing is, if you look at the qualifying times, everyone is so close now in terms of speed, you can’t give them any leeway.

“The Malaysian guy was good and played well to his strengths, Glaetzer was caught out; it’s happened to us all at one time or another.”

On the subject of the sprint qualifying session, you were second fastest with 9.650 to Glaetzer’s 9.583.

“I didn’t have to ride the team sprint so didn’t have any fatigue in my legs so was hopeful I could do a good time – and that was a personal best, which is always nice.

“But the qualifying isn’t racing and only means so much; Webster only qualified 12th fastest.”

Are we allowed to ask about the qualifying gear ratio?

“I had a 60 tooth ring on so I was mid-120 inches.”

Jack Carlin
Jack, like most of the sprinters these days, is using very bug gears. Photo©PA

In the eighth finals you beat Njisane Phillip of Trinidad & Tobago – he’s no slouch, he was fourth in the London Olympics and been Pan Am sprint champion.

“I’d never raced him before; that’s the thing, when you race guys for the first time it’s not just about beating them, it’s a big learning experience for future competitions.”

You had a wee bit of a scare in the quarters with Joe Truman (England), the GB National Kilometre Champion; he took you to three rides.

“We were joking about it before we raced; it always goes to three races with Joe and I – he plays to his strength, which is the longer sprint.”

Then you had the Aussie Schmid in the semis, he qualified sixth fastest.

“Again, a man I’ve never raced against – more learning curve but he’s a good rider; you have to figure out the other guy’s strengths and weaknesses – watch videos of their previous rides before you meet them.”

Then Webster in the final.

“He’s a very crafty rider, he knows how to use the track to his best advantage and again, a rider I’ve never race against before.

“He was reigning Commonwealth Games Sprint Champion so that speaks for itself.

“But all my rides are helping me to build a bank of experience towards Tokyo 2020, which is the big target.“

Jack Carlin
Sam Webster about to jump Jack. Photo©canadiancyclist.com

You had a wee break after the Games.

“I had a few days on the Gold Coast then went to Tenerife where I switched off completely and forgot I was an athlete and relaxed.”

What now?

“We’re in Valencia right now on a strength training block in the gym so I’m trying to find my gym legs again.

“The Manchester track is being re-surfaced but should be finished by the time we return to England.

“The first big goal is the European Championships which are at the start of August on my home track in Glasgow.

“That’s a big target for me, that’s where it all started for me and to race there for a European title in front of my home crowd will be special.”

I’ve asked you this before but isn’t it difficult having the competitive inspects you do and racing so infrequently?

“At the top level all the nations do it that way, building towards the big competitions.

“The training is no problem for me, I love it; the day to day routine is something I thrive on.

“Cycling is my hobby, I love it – and I get paid to do it!”

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and 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. 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.

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