An Evening With Chris Boardman

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An Evening with Chris Boardman

It’s not often you get an opinion from someone who is involved with British Cycling that hasn’t been twisted by the press. Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to Mountain Biking and British Cycling, but you can’t ignore what they’ve done for Road and Track Cycling.

Organised by Booka Bookshop, which is an Oswestry based bookshop and cafe, the event actually took place at The Marches School. After videos were shown of his legacy in the sport James Bond, from Radio Shropshire, quizzed the previously professional cyclist on topics covered in his Autobiography ‘Triumphs & Turbulence’.

I could write about these topics covered in Chris Boarman‘s book…

How his 1 hour record was the most horrifically painful experience he had ever had on a bike…

Or how Wiggins wanting to up sticks and move to France to continue his cycling career brought Chris Boardman back into cycling…

But I’m not as some interesting points were brought up in the Q&A’s:

  • His views on female cycling
  • Dealing with nerves
  • Recent dramas that have hit British Cycling

During the Q&A’s I put forward the question on what his view was of women and cycling, and his lengthy answer came as a surprise.

His view was that for women’s cycling to do well you needed a handful of things.

  • You needed not only women’s races, but a pool of female riders to fill those races.
  • The races and rider numbers attract sponsors.
  • Then people to run those events.

He also brought up that equal prize money is around the corner, but prize money isn’t what athletes live on. They live on salaries which come from sponsors.

Although it will have predominantly been related to road and track cycling, I think his answers can be applied to mountain biking too. Women just need the opportunities to have a go at these things to boost the amount of women in the sport. Yet the growing number of women on bikes is already visible.

Dealing with nerves was one of the first topics covered at the event and was brought up numerous times again throughout the evening.

At the start of his career he dealt with all of the nerves and the ‘what if’s’ going through his head before big races. His nerves got to a point prior to the ’92 Barcelona Olympics of (excuse the language) ‘F*ck it. I’ll be the best I can be.’ He said at that point he wasn’t trying to win a medal, he was ‘doing’ something. That something being the best he can be. All of the ‘what if’s’are not in your control, but you are in control of yourself. Waiting is always the hardest bit with racing, because once you’re actually in the race you can get on with it.

With British Cycling having been in the press so much recently, it was inevitable that it was going to come up. His response to this question from the audience was what was put in the press had details left out. It was all very one sided. The way I look at it is the life of an athlete is a tense and highly strung one. And whatever comes out in the newspapers? Will you ever know how close or far it all is from the truth? These events may have happened, but only the people who were actually there will know what happened for sure. And what else happened alongside it.

British Cycling over previous successful years has had many people behind it. Who’s outside of the box thinking brought about the success which materialised into gold medals. As Chris Boardman said, yes the reputation was damaged but is now seen as a clean sport. The sport of cycling has struggled but is now better for it.

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