Published: 20 January 2011
Report: Scott Hobro
As one of Great Britain Cycling Team’s longest serving members, sprint coach Iain Dyer has a greater understanding of what it takes to perform at the top than most, having played an integral role in the development of riders through the Olympic Development Programme, Academy and ultimately Podium Programme to take on the world’s best.
Dyer with Academy rider Becky James at last October's European Track Championships
With Great Britain boasting both strength and depth in the sprinters department with riders including but not limited to Jess Varnish, Becky James and Dave Daniell rising through the ranks, is this best young group Dyer has overseen?
“That’s a very difficult question to answer, some of those riders I don’t view as very young now,” explained Dyer.
“Some of them, such as Jess [Varnish] for example, I have worked with for around six years so it doesn’t seem like an emerging group in some senses. It’s very gratifying to see young people make the most of their potential - in fact some of the guys I work with never cease to amaze me with the improvements they make and the commitment they show to the sport.
"The feelings I get when I see someone develop into a fantastic athlete are always tempered by the thoughts of what could’ve been for athletes who don’t make it."
“Equally I still remember riders coming to tell me they are going to quit the sport and no matter what I thought about their fantastic potential to succeed in the future it just wasn’t for them at that time and you have to respect that decision. I remember those conversations vividly but you can’t make someone follow a pathway they don’t want to follow.
"Similarly I remember a conversation were I have had to sit a rider down and tell them we are not going to retain them on the programme for next year as we don’t believe they quite got what it takes. So the feelings I get when I see someone develop into a fantastic athlete are always tempered by the thoughts of what could’ve been for athletes who don’t make it.”
Cycling isn’t alone in sport in seeing great potential go unfulfilled, youngsters failing to reach the heights predicted. Getting to and performing in a world class field is the task facing the next generation of cycling stars. But ability alone will not suffice as Dyer, a coach at both the Athens and Beijing Olympics, can testify to. When it comes to complementing great capability on the track, fundamental values underpin any skill.
“I think above all else what stands out is an individual’s commitment and capacity to work hard and stay organised day in and day out,” Dyer said.
“I have seen one or two riders with the most amazing physical potential, far greater than anyone who might have been on the programme and achieved great things, but they can’t string seven day of hard work together and those athletes don’t survive very long on the programme.
“The ones that do well, the young names that you see coming to the fore now are the ones that can do it day in, day out, seven days a week, 12 months a year and keep going in that fashion. I think irrespective of where their individual physiological talents might lie, whether it’s the nature of their power output or the way they produce their speed - the one thing that separates people who achieve in this sport and don’t achieve is the capacity for hard work and their commitment to what they believe in and that’s what marks a young rider out as being particularly special.”