Published:18 May 2012
Words: Simon Powers
Image: David Fieldhouse
Last week: Team Physio Phil Burt
We are all familiar with many of the riders and coaches responsible for the great performances of the Great Britain Cycling Team. But in the lead up to this summer’s Games, we’re taking the opportunity to have a look at some of the staff from the Great Britain Cycling team who tend to go unnoticed but without whom, the team could not function.
Abby Burton (far right) co-ordinates interviews with Laura Trott (centre) during the recent Track World Cup in London
Abby Burton, Press Officer for the Great Britain Cycling Team, has been in this role for about four years. Previously, she worked for Triumph Motorcycles in Hinckley as a Marketing Assistant. Similar to her role now, this involved dealing with the media on a regular basis.
“I really enjoy being part of an elite team, it’s good to know that you are helping the riders. My role helps to strike the balance between raising the profile of the riders and also the sport whilst allowing the team to concentrate on training and racing without media interruptions.”
Abby is responsible for managing the press requests for the Great Britain team from journalists both out of competition and during major events, such as world cups and world championships. She liaises with print and broadcast media from all networks across the globe. This is testament to just how much interest there is in the Great Britain Cycling Team after their gold medal haul in the Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing nearly four years ago.
“Major events are where I am in my element to be honest, it’s the favourite part of my job. Normally a few weeks prior to any such event, we will hold a press day where we will invite journalists along. We would have around a two hour session with all the riders and I will be responsible for organising all of that. After that we will go into a media blackout, in which all media contact will stop until the event itself.”
At a major event, the team has a policy in which riders won’t speak to anyone until after the conclusion of their event. This is due to the fact that during such crucial events riders are always fully focused on scoring all important qualification points for the Olympics. In this environment, coaches and riders need to concentrate on their next round and any distractions during this time are totally out of the question.
“The media are understanding and used to the fact that the performance of the team needs to come first.”
Although this role is ongoing, the lead up to the Olympics during the next ten weeks will certainly keep Abby busy.
“We have got the BMX world championships coming up so I’ll firstly be preparing for that in exactly the same way as I would do for any other event. Following this we will be announcing the Great Britain team for the Olympics on 13 June, in a press conference with Dave Brailsford and potentially some of the selected riders.
“After this, it will be time for the Games, it’s going to be hectic but I try not to get too overwhelmed by the whole thing. I will be working across all cycling disciplines. As there is a cycling event on every day of the games except for two, it’s going to a pretty intense time in London this summer but I’m really looking forward to it.”
In case you missed last week's interview with Team Physio Phil Burt, click here