Five-time paralympic medallist, Helen Scott MBE, has today announced her retirement from professional cycling to take up the role of Paralympic Foundation Coach within the Great Britain Cycling Team.
Helen, who has enjoyed a successful 14-year career representing the Great Britain Cycling Team, will transition to her new coaching role supporting the team in their preparations for Paris 2024 and LA 2028.
Helen started riding competitively from the age of 14 after being inspired by Sir Chris Hoy’s gold-winning performance at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Following success as a junior, Helen progressed onto the Great Britain Cycling Team’s under-23 Sprint Academy in 2008, before moving across to the para-cycling team as a tandem pilot at the end of 2010.
Initially paired with Aileen McGlynn OBE, the pair enjoyed immediate success and won silver in the tandem B kilo at the 2011 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships. This was followed by a further three silver medals at the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships the year after, before taking silver in the tandem B kilo and bronze in the tandem B pursuit at London 2012.
Helen’s next partnership with Sophie Thornhill MBE proved particularly fruitful and saw her win two gold medals in the tandem B sprint and tandem B kilo at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This pairing then led to Helen’s first world titles in the same events at the 2015 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships.
Two more silver medals followed at the 2016 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships before the pair focused their attentions on the kilo event for the Rio Paralympics. This strategy proved successful, with the duo winning gold and breaking the Paralympic record, while also picking up a bronze medal in the pursuit.
A change in partners for 2017 saw Helen pilot Paralympic triathlete Alison Patrick for the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Los Angeles, where the pair won silver in the tandem sprint and bronze in the kilo. Later that year, Helen was awarded an MBE for her services to cycling.
In 2018, Helen then teamed up with Thornhill once more at the 2018 Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Rio – a reunion which led to gold in both the kilo and the sprint in world record times. They repeated the trick weeks later in Team England colours at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
In Helen’s final Paralympic Games in Tokyo, she once more piloted her first partner McGlynn, with the duo winning a silver medal in the women’s kilo B time-trial.
On her retirement, Helen Scott said:
“There are mixed emotions as I retire as an athlete because I still love what I do, but I feel it’s the right time for me and the perfect opportunity to grasp with both hands. I feel especially lucky to be able to transition on my own terms, as I know not everyone in sport has this privilege – it’s exactly how I hoped I’d transition from competing.
“I’ve held my coaching qualification for 10 years and have coached privately as well as supporting pathway camps along the way, and this experience has put me in a strong position to move into the role as Paralympic Foundation Coach and start supporting the riders as we work towards Paris 2024.
“For me, having additional interests within and outside of the sport, such as coaching and my sports science degree that compliment my training, is the reason I’m here today and still as passionate as ever after 14 years with GBCT.
“I just want to say a huge thank you to all of the staff and riders on the team, past and present, who have always believed in me and provided me with such incredible support throughout, and I hope that I can now repay the favour to the next generation of riders in my new role as coach.”
Stephen Park CBE, Performance Director for the Great Britain Cycling Team, said:
“On behalf of everyone on the team, I would like to congratulate Helen on an incredible career and thank her for the contribution she has made to para-cycling, both on and off the track.
“Helen can take enormous pride in being one of the world’s most decorated tandem pilots, taking victories across different events in World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Paralympic Games. The role of pilot requires a very specific type of person and the level of trust and commitment that is required to create not just one, but three highly successful partnerships, should not be underestimated.
“Off the track, Helen has displayed her commitment to strengthening her knowledge and skillset through independently achieving her Level 3 coaching qualification, further demonstrating her incredible passion for the sport, beyond her individual achievements, and supporting the development of other riders as they begin their own journeys in the sport.
“Helen’s knowledge, experience and understanding of what our riders need to become the best versions of themselves are qualities we are delighted to be bringing into our coaching team, and I look forward to watching her develop her coaching style to contribute to the team’s medal ambitions over the coming years.”
John Lenton, Paralympic Performance Manager, said:
“Alongside Helen’s phenomenal career as a rider, she is a qualified Level 3 Coach, which she has put to use over the years coaching individuals and supporting the team, alongside her own training. She also supported our series of webinars for aspiring coaches, with a focus on encouraging women and girls to enter the sport, so her experience and passion will be a real asset to the Great Britain Cycling Team para-cycling programme as we look to Paris 2024 and beyond.”
The team begin their 2022 calendar at this weekend’s UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Ostend, Belgium, which takes place from 5-8 May. Find out more here.