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Following a frustrating 2011 that saw World Cup personal best performances dashed by a season-ending injury, David Fletcher isn’t looking back in anger – his eye is on Olympic qualification and selection in 2012.
Speaking exclusively to British Cycling, Fletcher was single minded and focussed on the task that lay ahead of him and his Olympic Podium Programme cohort – qualifying the maximum number of places for the Olympic mountain bike race at Hadleigh Farm in August.
“At the moment we’ve got one place and we’re gunning for two”, said Fletcher, before emphasising the importance of being competitive in early World Cup rounds.
“The first race is round one in Pietermaritzburg , South Africa and I’ll just go from World Cup to World Cup and then hopefully gain selection for the Olympics.”
2011 illustrated how one slip can wreck the best laid plans. Fletcher’s broken wrist came at the same time as three-time Olympian Oli Beckingsale’s season-ending femur break. The team are mindful of this and everyone, including Fletcher, has to be ready for any eventuality. “Every scenario is on my mind. Coming into the Olympics I’ve got to be on top form no matter what, whether I’m selected or not. Whether I’m third reserve, second reserve or I’m selected straight away. I’ve always got to be on my game.”
If David gains selection, he faces a Hadleigh Farm course that suited him well when he rode it earlier in the year; “It’s a good course – it’s going to be fast whether it’s rainy or dry because it’s that hard packed all weather surface. It’s got quite a lot of technical elements; steep climbs, long drags a bit of flat – everything that makes a really good course.” However, Fletcher was confident yet pragmatic and continued “I do fare better on the harder courses – it does help me in the later stages of the races. But at the end of the day it’s a course and you’ve got to be on your game no matter what. I just do my best and give it 110-percent from start to finish.”
Ahead of Fletcher, now fully recovered from his wrist injury, lies an early season in which he must also get to grips with moving from the under-23 to the senior category, which he again answered with a blend of caution and confidence.
“I’m not expecting it to be an easy task but I reckon I’ll be up there – with all the cyclo-cross I’ve done this year it brings on my early season form quite well so I should be up there hopefully.”
And alongside racing cyclo-cross Fletcher’s winter is spent restoring an old VW pickup truck, something that clearly helps the 22-year-old divert his attention away from the pressures of performance,
“It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for ages and I bought it last year. It’s an old VW pickup from 1989. It helps me to relax and gives me another focus.”
And the rider who shot to prominence after medalling at the 2007 World Championships as a junior, is clearly in the right place mentally ahead of an Olympic season; “It’s a big race, the biggest race there is”, admitted Fletcher, “but you’ve got to take it as just another race, another day.”