Olympic champion Callum Skinner has today announced his decision to step away from the Great Britain Cycling Team after a successful 11-year career representing his country.
Skinner was inspired by fellow countryman Sir Chris Hoy to take up cycling in 2004, and in 2008 he was accepted on to the British Cycling performance pathway. During his time on the programme, Callum collected five world cup medals, one Commonwealth Games medal and a European championship title, but it was his results in the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 where he really made his mark on track sprinting.
After the 2016 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in London, in which Skinner pushed close to medals in the team sprint and sprint competitions, the trio of Skinner, Hindes and Kenny began making huge strides in their performances, culminating in a gold medal and an Olympic record in the team sprint on the day it really mattered. Skinner backed this up with a silver medal in the individual sprint to top off an incredible debut Olympic Games for the Scotsman.
It was a tough decision. Here is more on why I’m stepping away from the track and moving onto some new challenges. https://t.co/Xu9lcAe9ac— Callum Skinner (@CallumSkinner) March 7, 2019
In a statement on his website, Skinner said: "Today, I would like to announce I am calling time on my Elite Cycling career. It’s been a long and amazing journey, starting out in the cold of Meadowbank, Edinburgh in 2006 to peaking at the Olympic Velodrome in the Team Sprint at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016.
"Cycling has been very good to me, I’ve made lifelong friends and realised my dream for which I am eternally privileged. I appreciate that 26 might seem to many quite young to be transitioning away from the track, but I have never considered myself just an athlete; I consider myself far more than that. Cycling is my first love and it was the ideal place with the perfect opportunities to focus my drive to achieve great things. Now, on 7/3/19, I’m looking for a new challenge, my next Olympics.
"I want to build on the skills and perspective I’ve learnt and gained as a competitor over the last few years, and go on to greater things. As some of you will know, I’m particularly passionate about giving back to sport, using my profile for good, whether that’s in supporting the long overdue reform of sports governance, LGBT rights and encouraging people to get on their bikes.
"My last competition and podium place was at the Commonwealth Games in The Gold Coast in 2018; it was great to finish on a high. Since that time, I have been on an extended break due to my health deteriorating. This has proved to be a very challenging time.
"Through seeking help outside the programme, and by the unswerving support of my friends, family and agent, I have made incredible progress and I’m pleased to say have almost fully recovered. My focus and effort now lies in working in partnership with British Cycling to continue to make the athlete experience more human whilst still maintaining that performance mindset. These two essential aspects are not mutually exclusive of each other.
"Overall, I have had an amazing time at British Cycling and would like to thank my current and former; coaches, performance support staff and team mates for an amazing and unforgettable ten years. I wish them every success going forward."
British Cycling’s CEO, Julie Harrington, paid tribute to Skinner: “Callum has done both Scotland and Great Britain proud during his cycling career, winning medals on the global stage and playing his part in inspiring more people to take up cycling.
“For me, though, what is just as remarkable is what Callum has been able to achieve off the bike. In my time at British Cycling, he has developed into an articulate and passionate spokesman – whether as an LGBT ally, an advocate for better athlete representation, working with UK Anti-Doping or just asking for improved conditions on the roads for people on bikes.
"I have no doubt that Callum will continue to use his profile to support the causes he believes in and on behalf of everyone at British Cycling and the Great Britain Cycling Team, I’d like to thank him for his contribution to our sport and wish him the best of luck for his future.”