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Simon Watts

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Cyclo-Cross

Article posted: 08/01/2013

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If you wanted to know how to find and develop the next Sir Chris Hoy or Laura Trott you wouldn’t go wrong in watching the sessions ran by Regional Talent Development Coaches, with Simon Watts leading youth rider talent identification and development in the North East and Yorkshire Regions.

The Talent Programme is regionally based for both coaches and riders. Talent Programme riders are typically aged from 13 to 17 years old, and they all have the ambition of making it onto an Olympic podium. The Talent Programme's coaches have the skill, enthusiasm, imagination and commitment to help to develop riders with the goal of making them ready for the next step of the pathway; the Olympic Development Programme.

Simon's technical understanding of off road cycle sport and ability to improve youth rider’s technique makes him an ideal expert for the Insight Zone.

Insight Zone – When did you start riding?

I started riding and racing in 1992 as a kid, mainly regional MTB stuff in Wales where my family is from, it turned a trip to granny’s from deadly boring to the most exciting thing on earth! I did my first coaching award while I was doing a Sports Science Degree at University in 2000 and started from there. I had a small cyclo-cross session to start with which matured into a school club when I was teaching and then into additional work with the Olympic Talent Program. I’ve been a full time coach with British Cycling now for 7 years

Insight Zone – What motivates you?

Being the best in the world at what I do. My passion is in the development of youth and junior riders, particularly in the off road disciplines of cross country mountain bike and Cyclo-cross.

Insight Zone – What in your opinion is the highlight of your career, so far?

I have a number of highlights, it’s hard to say. Being selected to be a staff member at the Mountain Bike Worlds for the first time in 2007 was big and I have been extremely proud at every major cross or MTB championships that I have been involved in since. There is always a massive buzz when the team gets a medal, and so they are pretty memorable, also the first time we had a junior cross rider in the top 20 at the worlds, felt like a real step forward. All that said, I still get a huge amount out of coaching weekly sessions, and seeing the riders develop, and the club coaches that with them that I work with.

Insight Zone – Hero?

Chris Boardman, I was so happy when I started working at British Cycling and he turned out to be a really top guy as well. Also back in the day it was Tim Gould on the MTB, the first GB rider to really take it to the Americans who were dominant at the time. Plus he was from Matlock, near me, so at that age he really captured the imagination.

Insight Zone – What advice would you give to a young rider?

That's difficult, it’s my job and hard to sum up in a sentence. I don’t want to sound cheesy however it’s simply to enjoy it. Whatever the level or the level they are aspiring too, they have to enjoy it. The ones that come through on the programs all love the sport and what they do.  

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