For thousands of races during his 32-year career, Cycling Weekly snapper Graham Watson has globe-trotted as a privileged guest and tourist in other countries.
That all changed when cycling came home for the Olympics – almost literally for him. The time trial went within a kilometre of his Hampton Court front door. He couldn’t quite pop back for a cup of tea during the race, but Watson was able to use his own Internet afterwards.
“It’s very different, all a bit surreal. You come out of the track and live an ordinary life around the Olympics. In fact, I prefer being away, it’s much more efficient, there are no distractions,” Watson said.
That said, Watson’s sixth Olympic Games have had a special effect on him. “This one is much more emotional… you’re more involved, you see the bigger picture, the impact it has on London, the benefits and inconveniences. You don’t care so much as a privileged guest in other countries.”
“It’s given me a lot of pleasure to see how well it’s gone, people seem pretty happy.”
Wiggins gets the Watson treatment
Watson’s proximity has numerous benefits. He knows all the best cafés and restaurants. While those in the Olympic velodrome were stuck eating the “dire” morsels on offer, Watson was able to get from the track centre to his Hampton Court home in an hour and a half. “I watched Usain Bolt sprinting to gold with a glass of red and some pasta,” he said.
When it came to his day job of cycling photography, leading lensman Watson used his local knowledge from training rides to get the best shots. “I know exactly where to stand and what to expect. Box Hill took on a whole new meaning.” This is a brief homecoming for Watson. After several days’ rest post-Olympics, it’s back to the routine, covering the Tour of Spain, world championships and Chinese WorldTour races.
This article was first published in the August 9 issue of Cycling Weekly.