Turnbull seeks perfection in bid to join GB greats

Hamish Turnbull
Turnbull won gold in the team sprint at this year’s National Track Championships as well as individual bronze medals in the keirin and sprint [Getty Images]

Track cycling and Great Britain have one of the most fruitful relationships in Olympic history.

Team GB have won 78 medals on the track, with 33 of those being gold.

The likes of Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Jason and Laura Kenny have become some of the most decorated Olympians of all time.

But success goes hand-in-hand with expectation, according to sprint cyclist Hamish Turnbull.

"There's a lot of pressure because of British cycling dominance at the Olympic," Turnbull told BBC Look North.

"We've got a huge history of gold medals - hopefully I can back that up."

Turnbull was picked up by the British cycling talent team in 2014 after his father encouraged him to develop his skills at the Prissick Cycle Circuit in Middlesbrough.

At 14 he became the youngest rider in history to claim a national track sprint title - a record previously held by Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy.

"Two thirds of our team sprint - me and Ed Lowe - it's a our first Olympics but we've got some experience in Jack [Carlin] who can set us up for what's expected of us so we get everything right, " Turnbull said.

"Absolutely, it's a lot of pressure."

The 24-year-old was part of the bronze medal-winning men's sprint team in the 2022 World Championships but he failed to make the podium the following year in Glasgow.

Turnbull also missed out on a team sprint medal at the European Championships earlier this year, placing fourth.

But he sees the team for Paris as contenders to add yet another medal to Great Britain's tally.

"If British cycling [and] Team GB step up, we can be fighting for gold which is exciting.

"We need to make sure that between six months ago and the Olympic Games, everything needs to be perfect."

He added: "Taking it day by day, trying to be perfect, which is really tough but I've been going for eight years in training so six months of perfection, you've got to do it, otherwise the other seven-and-a-half years are wasted."

Great Britain's gold-laden past undoubtedly weighs heavily but rising to the occasion in front of a crowd is not beyond Turnbull's imagination.

"In the Commonwealth Games, I had this fantastic race in the keirin where I was out for the count and with one lap to go, I rush a gap and somehow manage to pass everyone and win the race, " he said.

"That was in London and I remember the crowd went mental. I'd love to have a race in Paris where I win - or even get a good result - where I get the same reaction as that.

"If that can happen again, that will be a dream come true."

'Kenny knows what we need'

While track cycling has been a strength for Team GB in recent history, the sprint has slipped into the hands of defending Olympic and World champions, the Netherlands.

"There's two really good nations now with the Dutch and the Australians, who have been fighting over the world championships over the past few years," Turnbull said.

"It's not like we haven't performed, in fact in the last event we did at the Olympic track, which will be in Paris, we got a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2022.

"Me and Jack finished fifth and sixth in the sprint so we are getting close to the podium."

The Dutch have a weapon in the seemingly unstoppable Harrie Lavreysen, the current World, European and Olympic champion in the men's individual and team sprint.

But Great Britain have someone in their arsenal too - Team GB's most successful Olympian of all time, Jason Kenny.

The 36-year-old retired from the sport and took a coaching role within Team GB in February 2022.

"On the start line, when you're about to go up and you've got the greatest Olympian of all time in my ear telling me what to do, telling me tactics, is even calming me down or ramping me up - he knows what we need because he's done it better than anyone.

"It fills me with confidence because no-one knows better than he does."

Turnbull only spent six months in the squad with Kenny before the seven-time gold medallist transitioned into coaching but there is no doubt that the hunger for medals remains as strong as ever.

"I would love to step on the podium. We've got some really nice podium-only trainers that I want to pull on," Turnbull said.