Rab Wardell honoured with Scottish Cycling's highest award posthumously

Late mountain biker's positivity for cycling remembered as "infectious"

Rab Wardell
(Image credit: Scottish Cycling)

The late Scottish mountain biker Rab Wardell was awarded Scottish Cycling's Badge of Honour at an event last week.

The cyclist, who died in August aged 37, was recognised at the body's AGM last week; the nomination noted “his legacy is already huge and has all the requirements for consideration for the honour".

Wardell won the elite men’s title at the Scottish MTB XC Championships in Dumfries and Galloway in August, before he died in his sleep just days later, after he was believed to suffer a cardiac arrest.

His partner and double Olympic track cycling champion Katie Archibald was at home with the 37-year-old when he died. 

“I think you’ve heard that Rab died yesterday morning,” Archibald wrote on social media at the time. “I still don't understand what's happened; if this is real; why he'd be taken now - so healthy and happy. 

"He went into cardiac arrest while we were lying in bed. I tried and tried, and the paramedics arrived within minutes, but his heart stopped and they couldn't bring him back. Mine stopped with it."

Scottish Cycling said that "after one of the longest standing ovations" they could remember, Wardell's father, Jack, provided an "emotional acceptance speech", which "recalled the impact Rab had, and continues to have, on our community".

A spokesperson said: "Rab was a friend of many, no matter your discipline or role in our sport. 'Bikes are gid' he would say.

"An elite mountain biker who had just turned professional, Rab was a gifted cyclist no matter the bike he was riding, be that road, track, BMX or cyclocross.

"Rab was also a coach, a former Scottish Cycling member of staff, and an advisor to the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. He was a son, a brother, a partner, a friend and an all-round good guy, who just loved cycling and everything it offered to so many people, from all walks of life.

"Mostly recently, his incredible long-distance challenges and social media presence promoted mountain biking and cycling in Scotland, his positivity infectious."

Glasgow-based Wardell had been racing mountain bikes since his teenage years, although only turned professional earlier this year. 

In 2020 the rider completed the West Highland Way (opens in new tab) in a new record time,  finishing the 96 mile course in 9-14-32. His win at Kirroughtree Forest (opens in new tab), the weekend before his death, was described by Scottish Cycling at the time as a “show of incredible resilience”. 

The other recipient of Scottish Cycling's Badge of Honour at their AGM was Rita Montgomery, a 91-year-old who "championed women’s cycling in Scotland long before it was popular or given parity".

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.