GARY BAKER'S OLYMPIC BLOG: Canada's Abergavenny cycling coach gives praise to GB

First published in Olympics in Wales

RICHARD Wooles could only look on in awe at the Velodrome and praise the incredible British Cycling squad yesterday.

Wooles is the Canadian track cycling coach and originally from Abergavenny.

His mum still lives in Pontypool and Richard, a former National Championships rider, is home every so often to visit family.

He moved to British Columbia after meeting his wife at the Commonwealth Games and living in Switzerland for a while. His wife wanted to go home to Vancouver and so Wooles followed.

Since then he has forged a great career on very limited resources and helped Canada’s star rider Tara Whitten to Commonwealth Games gold in Delhi two years ago and three World Track Championships titles.

Whitten also flew high in last night’s final night at the Olympic Velodrome in the women’s Omnium – cycling’s version of an athletics decathlon.

But, because Canadian cycling does not get a fraction of the millions of pounds the British team have as they pursue gold after gold in the sport, to get one rider even with a chance of an Olympic medal has been a real achievement.

Wooles, 39, said: “It was great to be at the Games and to see so many familiar faces – and so many Welsh faces.

“Some of my friends from Abergavenny have been up to watch the events so we have had four or five supporters waving the Welsh flag and giving us a bit of a cheer too.

“In Canada over the last few years we have started to get the process started.

We are on levels two or three of ten steps and hopefully we can build on this in London.

“Team GB are phenomenal. They have got the resources but you can’t take it away from the riders, they are phenomenal athletes, with a great talent ID programme and great coaches. It all pans out on the track to some fantastic performances.”

Richard and his team still have a bit more to do as the cycling action switches from the Velodrome to the BMX arena next door and the mountain biking in Essex.

However, he will be back in Gwent soon and has a quick message from London for a special person – Hi Mum!

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