There was a visible recoiling from Gold Coast cycling medal hope Jack Carlin when it was put to him yesterday that he could be Scotland’s successor to Chris Hoy, as he sat in the Glasgow Velodrome that takes the name of the multi-gold Olympian.
Yet the Paisley-born 21-year-old could only be a matter of weeks away from emulating Hoy in one notable sense. Across his glittering career, the now children’s author acquired a medal haul that would even put the collection of a North Korean general in the shade. However, Hoy only claimed one individual gold when representing Scotland in the Commonwealth Games.
The fact that Carlin’s burgeoning track prowess brought him the silver medal in the men’s sprint at the World Championships held in Holland’s Apeldoorn only three weeks ago means he can surely be considered firmly in contention for gold in Australia. Carlin certainly sees Hoy as a figure to be more than celebrated.
“Chris Hoy inspired a lot of people and inspired me personally,” he said. “His race was one of the few cycling events I watched at London 2012 because I was more interested in the road and the mountain biking at that time. But watching Chris in the keirin, it was just amazing.
“I don’t think he’s only inspired the sprinters – I think that as a whole team going out to Gold Coast, it’s because of cyclists like him who inspired a whole new generation of riders.
“I’ve met him a few times – out in Apeldoorn, when I was coming up to the sprint finals, he popped down to the track centre and was giving me a bit of advice in how to ride and to have confidence in myself. These little things really help.
“He’s a hard man to follow. But for me, it’s about first getting one medal because it’s a long time to be doing it [to get anywhere close to him].”
Carlin, who only took up cycling after discovering it agreed with him when he was using it for his rehabilitation after fracturing both his ankles as a youngster, will compete in the sprint and keirin but not have any team sprint to pursue a third medal – this event providing Hoy with his other Commonwealth gold.
“It’s disappointing we’ve not got that opportunity to ride [the team],” he said. “However, it allows everyone to focus on their own events. So hopefully it’ll give us a bit of an edge and less tired legs in the individual events. So there’s good and bad.
“We were just one man short. We have strength and depth coming through in the younger age-group but they’re just not quite there yet.
“There’s no point putting a team in if you’re not going to be a medal contender, especially when there’s riders who can be fighting for medals in individual events.”
With the Commonwealth Games coming soon after the World Championships, Carlin was left with only three days off between competing last month and preparing for next month.
Any prospect of “recuperating and re-evaluation” was knocked on the head by a house flit for the young cyclist now based near the UK’s national cycling centre in Manchester.
The unhelpful scheduling of the Gold Coast jamboree for elite cyclists means Carlin is not looking to peak twice in little over a month but is instead hoping to not drop off from his Apeldoorn level.
And as the highest stage on which he can compete under the saltire, he does not see the forthcoming Games as a minor distraction – as it on occasion seems to have become in his sport.
“It’s about trying to carry the form through from the World Champs,” said Carlin. “The World Champs is the main focus because it gives you points towards the Olympics which is obviously the main focus, however, from a personal point of view, representing Team Scotland is something I’ve always wanted to do since watching Glasgow 2014 four years ago.”
In the Gold Coast Games, Scotland-England rivalry will come into play with Carlin pitted against flat-mate and GB team-mate Joe Trueman. “If I beat him I’ll definitely let him know.”