Over 50 riders travelled from across the UK to take part in the DHL Sprint School racing day on December 6 at Manchester Velodrome. British Cycling coaches Tim Buckle and Gary Coltman organised an action packed day with six hours of competition for the youngsters.
Tim was delighted with the day, and even more with how much the riders had improved over the season. He said: "Well that was mint. Objectives of 2008 were about having fun and showing improvement. Better get my head down and make 2009 even better. Thanks everyone you know who you are."
During the three hour morning session on the track the competitors took part in Keirin heats and Devils. Heats for Keirins were seeded according to 200m times and throughout the competition riders moved up and down to different heats, the top two finishers went up and the bottom two down.
This allowed riders of all ages to race against those of similar ability. Emerging victorious after 45 heats, Matt Rotherham (14) and Emily Kay (13) won the competition. Later that evening, during the Revolution track event, the two young riders presented Chris Hoy with his winner?s bouquet and did a victory lap in front of the packed crowd.
Matt Rotherham and Emily Kay meet Chris Hoy at the Revolution track meeting. Photo by Andy Jones
Star rider Jamie Staff was on hand in the morning, helping the kids warm up and giving tips and tactics to those waiting on the fence for their turn to go. He said:? It was a brilliant day watching the young kids put into practice what they have learnt over the last year. The improvements they have all made both technically and tactically is great.?
Jamie continued, ?I hope it has given them a better understanding of what it takes to be a sprinter and I hope that they all pursue their dreams in wanting to be the Chris Hoys, Vicki Pendletons and Jamie Staffs of the future! I have no doubt that they will.?
Owing to incredible organisation by the coaches and the riders punctuality, the heats finished nearly an hour ahead of schedule allowing time for three devils. These were close fought battles between the tired youngsters; indeed many of those placed highly in the morning were unable to hold their form.
After a short lunch break and a visit by man of the moment Chris Hoy, the riders were back, this time on the Watt Bikes. Jamie was joined by Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar and together they set the time to beat. The youngsters were then divided into 12 teams after being seeded by a quick 250 TT. The competition was fierce and just a few seconds separated the first and last placed teams. Showing some serious speed, Rebecca Womersley, Matt Webb and Alan Trulove successfully saw off the competition and won!
Rebecca commented: "I had a fantastic day thanks to DHL. I really enjoyed Keirin racing in the morning and was pleased that my team won the sprint on the Watt bikes. The prize was great having my photo taken with the British sprint squad at the evening Revolution."
As ever, Sprint School is not all about the winning, and the final award of the day went to Eleanor Corkhill. Eleanor?s enthusiastic nature, happy demeanor and dedication to everything she does has consistently impressed her coaches and she was awarded with a jersey signed by the best sprinters in the World ? including Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Jamie Staff, and Arnaud Tournant.
Eleanor was delighted with her award, saying "I think Sprint School has given me so much more confidence and skill that I needed to ride the track at a whole new level. The coaches are great, and every time I have been to a sprint school, I have made new friends! I also enjoyed meeting the 'stars' because they are really good at giving you advice if you are stuck, or just talking to them in person."
Dates for Sprint School 2009 will be announced very soon.
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