John Paul

Wednesday, 1st March, 2017

In our ongoing series of catching up with former Braveheart Riders of the Year, I managed to grab a few words with John Paul, rider of the year in 2011

I began by asking John where it all began for him. ‘’I remember watching the track cycling at the Athens Olympic Games of 2004. I had never seen it before and I was really impressed by the steep banking: it looked cool. My dad had ridden grass track and I asked him about it and we found out about my local velodrome at the time, which was an outdoor ‘drome at Palmer Park in Reading and things gathered pace from there. ‘’

John then talked a little bit more about moving through the ranks of the Great Britain Track programme in the late 2000’s and representing Scotland at the Delhi Commonwealth games in 2010. ‘’There was a lot of focus on qualifying points for the London Olympics in 2012, so many younger riders were sent to Delhi, while the senior riders got ready for London. There was a bit of a media frenzy!’ He followed this up with his ‘dream year’ in 2011, when he won British, European and World Championships Sprint title, and was named Braveheart Rider of the Year. Needless to say he cites 2011 as one of the highpoints in his career.

‘The Braveheart financial support was very welcome. It helped toward the costs of equipment and travel.’ This was sorely needed following John’s deselection from the GB track squad in 2013. ‘It is difficult to make a living from Track Cycling when you are outside the programme. Unfortunately it’s not the same as Road Cycling, which is a completely different world. You are in or out’. 

John then went through a period of reflection and in 2015 broke his wrist in a training accident. ’‘It turns out I had already broken my wrist in 2014 and never realized. When I broke it in 2015 the medical team discovered the damage already there! That was the final catalyst for me to leave cycling behind for now. Back when I was in the GB squad we used to joke about the 9-5 job, as we pushed ourselves to the limit and beyond. Now I feel a weight off my shoulders without the heavy pressure I was putting on myself to succeed during the years of hard training.’’ So John’s bikes are currently gathering dust in the shed, while he works on a new career in property renovation.

By now it’s late evening and I don’t want to hold John up much longer, but we chat a little bit more about some of the highs he experienced. ‘Obviously my dream year in 2011 was amazing and representing Scotland at the Delhi and Glasgow Commonwealth Games was fantastic. But I also got to travel to some really cool places, like Delhi, but also Mexico, Russia, Trinidad: places I would never have had the chance to go without cycling and the support from Braveheart and others.’’

Before wishing John good night I ask him if he has any tips for young cyclists looking to succeed in the sport.
‘‘Don’t get too serious too soon… Enjoy it!’’
I think that is something we can all learn from.

Our thanks to John for taking the time to talk to us.


Pro Rider Cycling



Chris Hoy