Track cyclist Hamish Turnbull insists it’s not too late to muscle into Great Britain’s sprint stable for the Paris Olympics.
The Morpeth star has announced himself on the major stage at the Commonwealth Games, taking team sprint bronze at the opening night of racing at London’s velodrome.
Having impressed with clever tactical racing in finishing ninth in the keirin, the 23-year-old was beaten out in an individual sprint battle of the Brits by Scotland’s Jack Carlin.
Turnbull said: “To be honest I’m just happy to be up in the mix of things. I had a good qualifying and got through the first round, then to match up with Jack, it’s special to race your team-mates.
“You just go for it, no holds barred, and you’re happy for whoever wins.
“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses because we ride with each other more than anyone else. There’s an added layer of strategy where you’re trying to counteract them.
“It’s kind of like a game of chess at the end of the day but he was stronger.
On the team sprint success, he said: “We came in as a brand new team and we just want some clean rides, so to stand on the podium was very special.”
Turnbull is a former road rider, starting age 14 in 2013, and was quickly picked up by the British Cycling talent team.
He has worked his way through the ranks and stepped onto the prestigious sprint podium squad, coached by seven-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny, six months ago.
He said: “I’m getting to these big events now and the chance to show what I can do. It’s a learning process and hopefully in two years for the Games, I’ll be right up there.
“We talk about the challenges of stepping up but in reality it makes your life a lot easier. You put in the graft and you have to sort everything out yourself.
“You’re kind of spoiled on the podium programme, performance is your only priority, and everyone is trying to remove as many obstacles as possible.
“I made a huge step up in performance in the first few months on the programme so hopefully that continues.”
Next up for Turnbull is the European Championships in Munich, beginning on 11 August, with the World Championships in Paris coming in mid-October.
He is likely to step into the team sprint squad for at least the former with team-mate Joe Truman having suffered a suspected broken collarbone in a keirin crash here.
The big picture is a push for Paris, where Turnbull would be 25, hoping to join the likes of Olympic silver medallist Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens on the biggest stage.
The maximum number of sprint riders Britain can send to the Paris Olympics is three, making selection a tight affair.
He said: “It’s everybody’s dream to go to the Olympics, it’s why we do it.”
Turnbull is proud to represent his north-east heritage as well as Team England.
“The north-east has always been considered a weaker region for cycling, but there’s some great work happening,” he said.
“Hopefully we’re starting to put it on the map.”
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