Olympic medallist Jack Carlin is clear he would never have reached the heights he has were it not for the Commonwealth Games.
Carlin was part of the Great Britain squad that took team sprint silver at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, adding bronze in the individual event.
The 25-year-old Scot will go into the Commonwealth Games this weekend among the favourites for gold in both the individual sprint and the keirin, looking to upgrade the sprint silver he won in Gold Coast four years ago.
The Commonwealth Games may be an outlier on the international track cycling calendar, slightly awkwardly positioned just a couple of weeks before the European Championships in Munich, with the World Championships to follow in October, but it is not an event Carlin will ever overlook.
Although many riders in the current set-up credit the London Olympics 10 years ago with inspiring their careers, Carlin said the key event for him was the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
“In 2014 I was a spectator in the stands and I think that’s what sparked my true passion for the sport,” Carlin told the PA news agency. “Watching my fellow Scots racing in front of a home crowd, I thought to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do one day, to be on the other side of the fence’.
“Representing Scotland only happens once every four years. It’s quite a privilege to be able to put the Saltire on and race under a blue banner. It’s in between major races with the Euros and Worlds coming up, but that doesn’t take away from the fact you want to do your country proud.”
The Glasgow Games brought top-class facilities to Scotland, most obviously the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Newbank, without which Carlin said he would never have had the opportunity to reach the top.
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“Without those facilities I would never have been where I am now, I guarantee that for sure,” he said.
“The facilities are fantastic – the velodrome, the gym, the support from Cycling Scotland has been a massive boost in the west of Scotland, not only for cycling but sport in general that’s not football or rugby.”
Carlin has been making the most of those facilities in recent months. With the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, home of the Great Britain squad, currently closed for renovation, Carlin opted against following most of the rest of the team to Derby and has instead based himself at home.
That has meant he has mostly been communicating remotely with Sir Jason Kenny, a team-mate in Tokyo but now the boss after retiring from competition to become Britain’s men’s sprint coach.
Kenny will be coaching Team England in London but Carlin is still looking forward to catching up with him.
“I’ve done a lot of work with Jason, he’s been running my programme, but now he’s handed it over to Scotland and is focused on Team England,” he said. “But I’m sure if I went to speak to him on race day he’s not going to punch me in the nose and kick me! It’s all good.
“Jason is who he is. He’s always had massive respect from the team, not only the other riders but all the staff because of who he is and what he’s done. He’ll probably say the transition has been harder himself more than it was for the other riders because he already had that respect and trust.
“When we found out Jason was going to be coach I was pleased because I think Jason has got a wealth of knowledge that he’s not unlocked yet.”
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