The junior men and women have excelled once again in the team pursuit at the Junior World Track Championships, but where to from here? The aftermath of success can be just as important as the success itself and Hayden Roulston knows all about that.
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RC: It’s a tremendous testament to New Zealand cycling that over and over again we seem to produce medal after medal in the junior ranks at World Championships; there’s clearly a great investment in young riders here. What, in your opinion has triggered this consistent success at junior level?
Hayden: Well first and foremost we have some extremely talented kids – some of the best I have ever seen and this is only going to grow deeper. I think our young riders now grow up watching our elites have success on the world stage at the Olympics, Worlds etc – so they start with a mindset of: we can do It and possibly even better vs the mindset that I started off being ‘how do we do that?!’ In my time as a junior the NZ program was in a very early development phase – we never saw heaps of success, so it was much tougher to tap into that energy. I think that is a huge thing for these young riders nowadays. They actually grow up knowing they can achieve everything they want and that is thanks to the success of the program and riders before them.
RC: With major championship titles and medals at national, Commonwealth, world and Olympic level under your belt what can you tell us about the impact that they had on your career; particularly the earlier accolades?
Hayden: Every result has a major impact because it moulds you and gives you hope for the future. I don’t think it always has to be a major result though, even small results count for something because they allow you to dream bigger. Athletes often focus on the BIG results, getting in a BIG team but the small results and opportunities teach you just as much if not more.
For me the early results were just amazing, cause not many had done it before me/us. Just winning nationals were mind-blowing back in the early days. 2002 Commonwealth bronze was amazing, I was young (21) had just signed pro and it was a special Games. 2003 with Hendy in the Madison was very special too – we were so close to winning that. We were only 7th in the Madison at the Olympics in 2004, but we were super close to taking a lap in the final and were definitely one of the strongest teams and that felt special too. I still remember the World Cups though, winning the TP, the Madison and they were amazing – that gave us real hope…. 2008 was the most special – the TP that year was a little unexpected but to win bronze with a group of mates was very special and I guess that result along with what Ulmer did, and Hendy helped create the beast that Cycling New Zealand is today – it gave hope to our current crop of kids.
RC: Was there ever a time where you’d come away from a big win at a major championship, the excitement of the win would subside and you’d then have to grapple with the questions of ‘what now’? If so how did you deal with that?
Hayden: Post-race blues always happens! It is hard to deal with but things like goal setting and real planning makes life after a major competition much easier. There always has to be a long term plan, a break, the next goal and to be honest this is how my whole career went. I always had goals, I would always write them down and make them real. As a coach now I always take the long term approach. Kids nowadays want it all tomorrow, they would train 7 days a week if I allowed them – and that may produce results now but I don’t think they would be riding when it really mattered if this was the case.
RC: What direction would you be encouraging our team pursuit squads in after both gold and silver medals at what for many/all of them will be the biggest event of their careers thus far?
Hayden: It comes down to what the athlete wants and nothing else matters. Both the men and women could do what some of us did and turn professional on the road. Some will stay on the track and just progress through to the elite squads. I think women’s cycling right now is on the cusp of something big, so for our girls they are going to have some great opportunities in the coming years. For the men going pro is something all of them will get to do I reckon, they are super talented and it’s going to be very exciting to watch how it all plays out.
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