In­ter­view

Cyclist - - Lead Out -

all know that if they’re go­ing to the Olympics with a GB jer­sey on peo­ple ex­pect them to come back with a medal.

Katie Archibald said re­cently that ev­ery day she’s train­ing with world cham­pi­ons. Even though your ef­forts might be dif­fer­ent to some­one else’s, there is still in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion. Have you given 100%? Have they trained more ef­fec­tively? Are you rid­ing as well as she is? So it has been about just re­flect­ing a lit­tle bit, re­mem­ber­ing what it is we’re do­ing and why we’re do­ing it.

Cyc: Is it hard to bal­ance high per­for­mance with ath­lete wel­fare?

SP: Well, yes, ar­guably it is. But if you look at in­dus­try, com­merce or bank­ing, peo­ple have that chal­lenge all the time. There will be peaks and troughs and we shouldn’t get away from the fact that cy­cling is a tough sport. But that doesn’t mean we can’t deal with peo­ple ap­pro­pri­ately or that we need to have coaches at the side whip­ping ath­letes.

We know some peo­ple do need to be pushed. Oth­ers need to be sup­ported, guided and coaxed. Some need to be left to their own de­vices at times. It’s about how to get the best out of peo­ple. It’s about try­ing to sup­port the emo­tional in­tel­li­gence of rid­ers and staff so they can have a whole­some ex­pe­ri­ence with­out di­lut­ing per­for­mance.

And that’s what the rid­ers are here for any­way. They’re not con­scripts. Peo­ple come here be­cause they want to see how good they can be and they want to be the next Vic­to­ria Pendle­ton or Chris Hoy or Bradley Wig­gins. And be­ing in­volved in the GB cy­cling team is the best way to do that. Peo­ple want to fo­cus on win­ning, but that doesn’t mean it should be a hor­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. Cyc: UKAD cleared Bri­tish Cy­cling and Bradley Wig­gins over the un­ver­i­fi­able ‘Jiffy bag’ med­i­ca­tion. But were there lessons to learn?

SP: For sure. With re­gards to UKAD, it’s quite a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. Clearly we all look at what is go­ing on with Rus­sia, for ex­am­ple, in the Win­ter Olympics where they re­ceived a ban. We all want to op­er­ate on a level play­ing field, and there needs to be polic­ing.

How­ever, it be­comes quite dam­ag­ing for peo­ple go­ing through in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­cause peo­ple put two and two to­gether and come up with five. That makes it quite un­pleas­ant. We’ve seen some of that with Bradley Wig­gins and I re­ally feel for him in that re­gard.

But Bri­tish Cy­cling was crit­i­cised for the qual­ity of its med­i­cal record­ing and no­body is dis­put­ing that. We ap­pointed a new head of med­i­cal ser­vices in Dr Nigel Jones. We have a new med­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tor who’s re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing all those records that weren’t in place are backed up in the right man­ner. Right now we are putting to­gether a form of med­i­cal gov­er­nance com­mit­tee to have over­sight. It will chal­lenge us about what we’re do­ing and why we’re do­ing it. That’s the right thing.

Cyc: What are the key ar­eas for progress ahead of Tokyo 2020?

SP: Some of our big­gest ar­eas of op­por­tu­nity are in the new BMX Freestyle Park event. With very re­fined events like the team pur­suit, the mar­gins be­come smaller. But with BMX Freestyle Park, the tran­si­tions from now to Tokyo will be huge. Af­ter that, the big area is coach­ing, in terms of em­pow­er­ing the ath­letes to re­ally own their own per­for­mances. That’s not to say I don’t think that has been hap­pen­ing, but I think there is still ground to cover there.

Cyc: Would you be happy to main­tain Bri­tish Cy­cling’s level of suc­cess or are you aim­ing for more?

SP: Emo­tion­ally, yeah, ab­so­lutely I want to do bet­ter. We want to win ev­ery­thing. But log­i­cally, we also know that lots of those big jumps have gone. The per­for­mances in Rio and Lon­don were out­stand­ing, and whether they will ever be achieved again I don’t know. But ev­ery day I think, ‘What can we do bet­ter?’ I’m never sat­is­fied. It’s prob­a­bly one of my faults. ]

Park has also made changes to the way Bri­tish Cy­cling man­ages its med­i­cal records fol­low­ing the ‘Jiffy bag’ con­tro­versy, in­clud­ing the set­ting up of a com­mit­tee to over­see med­i­cal gov­er­nance. ‘It will chal­lenge us about what we’re do­ing and why we’re do­ing it. That’s the right thing’

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