British cycling performance director Stephen Park has promised that his riders will win “the right way” at the Tokyo Olympics following the devastating guilty verdict against former team doctor Richard Freeman earlier this year.
Park also promised that British Cycling had moved away from the old regime, under which Freeman was found to have purchased banned testosterone knowing it was to drug an anonymous cyclist, as he appointed a 26-man squad for Tokyo.
“Personally, I think it’s really important to show that we have made progress,” said Park, who took over from British Cycling in 2017. “I am fully committed to us winning the right way. We have a responsibility to lead the sport, we have a responsibility to do so with integrity.
“We are going to battle for the British public. We want them to be proud of what we do and how we do it. “
Team GB can count on six previous gold medalists in Tokyo, including Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy, Jason Kenny, Laura Kenny, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald. Park warned, however, that there were fewer medals up for grabs because their technological advantage over rivals had been reduced.
Beginning with the 2008 Games in Beijing, British track cyclists have benefited from special leather suits with drag-resistant ridges that create a “turbulence effect” that reduces the amount of wind resistance acting on the body. Sources have previously told The Guardian that they give a 5% to 10% performance advantage over rival countries.
Such technology played a vital role in helping Britain top the medal table in Beijing, London and Rio. However, Park admitted that eight medals in Tokyo, compared to 12 in Rio, were now more realistic. “The technology margins that we have had in the past will erode a bit,” he said. “As the years go by, there are several people who have worked with our team who are now working elsewhere, and some of that information leaks out.
“That being said, I am absolutely confident that the kit package will be as good, if not better, than any other nation. We have still invested a great deal of time, effort and money to make sure we are competitive. “
The team will be led by Laura Kenny, who confirmed that she will compete in three events, the omnium, the team pursuit and the madison, as she seeks to become the most successful Olympian on Team GB.
Kenny, who already has four gold medals to his name, said the one-year delay due to the pandemic had given him more time to prepare after injuring his shoulder. “I never would have wanted all this pandemic in the world,” he said. “But for me as an athlete, definitely having this extra year has helped me do all three events.”
Her husband Jason, who could also beat Chris Hoy’s GB team record of six Olympic golds, said he was putting those thoughts in the back of his mind. “I don’t really think about records or anything, I just focus on the task and try to put in a performance worthy of being on the sharp end,” he said.
Twin brothers Adam and Simon Yates have been selected for the men’s road race, as have Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart, who will also participate in the men’s time trial. In the women’s road race, London 2012 silver medalist Lizzie Deignan will be joined by Anna Shackley, and Shackley will also compete in the women’s time trial.
Park, who joined British Cycling in 2017 after Freeman left, also emphasized that there had been a total change in the organization, which had previously faced accusations of having a “culture of fear.”
“We have done a great deal of work in recent years around broader wellness,” he said. “We have reviewed many of our medical practices. A big change in the way we approach mental health. We believe that happy cyclists are fast cyclists. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism