Interview: Olympic hopeful Pete Mitchell

By Jamie Spoor

Meet Pete Mitchell, Beeding born track cyclist who, despite only being 21, has already won two Under-18 World Championship medals, a European silver medal and represented England in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year.

With next year’s Olympics looming large, Brighton Lite sat down with Pete to discuss his ambitions, achievements so far, and his rise to the top level of British cycling.

What are your best achievements so far?
I won an individual European silver medal in 2007, which was special, and then there was the World Gold in the team sprint for GB in the same year. Both of those are my best results so far, although obviously a medal in London would top both.

I was only 17 when I won in 2007, which made it even more of an achievement. With the individual sprint obviously you just focus on yourself, but in the team event you have to know what you need to do and be aware of the other three guys times, so they’re very different.

Proudest moment so far?
Going back to the 2007 Junior Worlds, winning the Gold Medal in the team sprint in Mexico has to rank as my greatest achievements and the proudest moment from a personal point of view.

Another proud moment and the highlight of my career so far was my fourth place in the sprint in the World Cup in Beijing this year. It was my first World Cup and to finish fourth was fantastic and it gives me the confidence and belief that I can medal at the major competitions.

Best thing about representing Great Britain?
Obviously the sense of pride is the main factor, there’s no greater feeling than representing your country. To compete for your country in any discipline is special, but Britain have been so dominant in track cycling in the last few years, to be a part of a team where the country has done so well and be the amongst the best in the country is the greatest honour.

How realistic are your medal hopes in London?
Simply by competing I’ve got hopes of a medal. As I said British cycling is so strong that everyone on the team targets a medal. The strength in depth is so great. The keirin is difficult to win as it’s a distance race which Chris Hoy has dominated. The other two, though, the team sprint and the individual sprint, I hope to do well in. That’s what I’m aiming for and it would be fantastic.

What stage of your preparations are you at?
My training programme and everything I do in cycling at the moment is geared towards London next year, working hard to make sure I’m in the best shape possible for the Olympics. We would then need to make sure we qualify, which is done through the major events in which the team get points, we’d need a certain number of points to qualify, then the team is selected four or five months before the Games.

When did you become serious about cycling and who introduced you to it?
It was when I was 14 or 15 and a mate at school was into mountain biking, it looked like something I would enjoy so I went to my local outdoor circuit in Preston Park; I got a coach who saw potential and encouraged me to get into cycling seriously. Then I was picked for the British under-18 team from a talent group of 120 people, so it was a huge honour to be selected. That kick-started things really and it went from there.

I’m funded by Sport UK and live and train in Manchester, as that’s where the British cycling team have the velodrome and headquarters.

What would competing in London mean to you?
There’s so much hype about London even now a year out, competing in any Olympics is the crème de le crème, but for a Brit competing at home in front of a passionate crowd, it’ll be great to be a part of it and to experience it first hand. If I do go, it’ll be my first Games and something I’m delighted to be considered for. We dominated the cycling in Beijing, so that’s something we’d look to continue.

Who is your inspiration?
Chris Hoy, he’s such a nice guy and an inspiration to any young cyclist. He’s someone you look to model your technique on and he’s a great guy to be around. He’s such an encouragement; he gives you advice and has so much time to talk to you about training and tactics.

Do you have any superstitions?
I’m not really a superstitious person, but my coach has psychological visualisation cards to keep me focused. Just things like “be the best that you can be”, that I think about before going out to race, to ensure I stay motivated and feel at ease. I do get nervous before a race, so little like that just help to stay calm.

For more information, visit Pete’s website at petemitchell.co.uk.

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