This week we hear from Louise Haston, a Commonwealth athlete, who along with Aileen McGlynn, won Scotland’s first medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
I got involved with sport from a very young age. It started with Cross Country Running before moving onto Heptathlon, Pole Vault and then Triple Jump. I represented Scotland on numerous occasions and previously held the Scottish Record for Pole Vault. After focusing on Triple Jump for 3 years, I won numerous Scottish Championship Medals! But sadly problems with my knee stopped me from progressing and at the end of 2009 I decided to give Track Cycling a go as Meadowbank Velodrome was right on my door step…I have never looked back.
In 2011 I was invited by British Cycling to try piloting Paralympic medallist Aileen McGlynn on the tandem. We rode in Spain at the World Cup in the road and TT events and finished 6th and 8th respectively. A few months later I was drafted in to pilot Lora Turnham at the World Championships in Denmark were we finished 8th in the TT but unfortunately we crashed in the road race.
After this short stint on the tandem I got back on my solo bike trying to get as much race experience as possible, as this was still all fairly new to me. The next year and a half was spent gaining experience on the road, track and crit racing.
Then I received the news that the tandem would be included in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games! I knew this was a massive opportunity for me and I wanted to be the best I could be, so I had the best chance of being selected to either ride with Aileen McGlynn or Laura Cluxton at the Summer Games. Immediately my training focus changed and from then on I was training on the tandem, taking 6 week blocks with Laura and Aileen. I was up against Fiona Duncan for the position of pilot, in the eaxact same way Laura and Aileen would be fighting for the same spot.
Looking back I recognise it was an exciting, busy and tiring few months and I hope the following diary leading up to the games can provide you with a bit of an insight to what the journey was like!
So far this month has been really promising for me and Aileen on the tandem. Training in the gym and on the track has been good and I am pleased to say, going in the right direction!
We are really looking forward to receiving the new tandem, which the museum has kindly bought for us to use in our preparations towards Glasgow 2014. For now though, we will have to make use of our current tandem. We will be going for qualifying times in the 200 time trial and the kilometre time trial on the 4/5th March on this bike.
Tuesday 4th March
Well, today is the day me and Aileen are going for the 200 time trial qualification at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome. I am really nervous as I know how much we both want this!
Qualifying went really well, we posted a time of 11.284, 6 thousandths of a second off the world record (11.278). We are both really happy with this ride, maybe just a little gutted not to get the world record but hopefully we will have more chances before Glasgow 🙂
Wednesday 5th March
Today is the day I've been dreading, not because I don't think we will do the qualifying time, but because this is the event I would love to smash! I'm more nervous about this event as the kilometre is not an event you do in training, it always seems to be 500m or 750m, never the full distance.
I arrived at the velodrome 2 hours before we were due to ride. At this point the nerves were really starting to kick in and I was probably getting more worked up than I should! At the end of the day it's only 4 laps of the velodrome! Training has been going well, so we really shouldn't have anything f to worry about?!?!
The time had come, Aileen and I were up in the track pedalling around to the start line. I was focused and ready to go, trying to push the nerves to the back of my mind. On the start line, I can hear the bleeps counting down from 10….. 5,4,3,2,1 go! We are off, but a mechanical changed that. We rode around to the other side of the track where Kevin out coach fixed the problem. Again we were pedalling around to the start line. Away we go, this time we get a clean start! Not as good as we had done previously in training but we seemed to pick up every lap and not feeling like we were dying. We dug in the final lap and crossed the line in a 1.09.918! This was a personal best for us both, even though we had only ever done one previously which was 2 years earlier. We were happy with the time, knowing there is so much more there! And also we smashed the qualifying time so was all going well.
Today we fly out to Mallorca for a 10 day training camp. I have really been looking forward to this camp, getting to bond as a team and hopefully some good weather. For the next 10 days I will be riding on the tandem with Laura, who is another stoker.
Unfortunately about 5 days into the camp the two tandems had a nasty crash which left Laura with a broken collar bone and Fiona and Aileen with some bumps and bruises! The day this happened I just happened to be riding my solo bike, so I avoided the nasty crash. However, Laura is now not able to ride on the tandem so I will be on my solo bike for the rest of the camp! Not an ideal situation, but we are just glad it was nothing too serious and the girls are still here to tell the tale.
Tues 1 April
Today was our first track session at the velodrome after the road and gym camp. I am still riding my solo bike until Laura has the all clear from the docs. Hopefully this won't be too much longer. Laura and I are meant to be going for the qualifying time at the beginning of May as are Aileen and Fiona. We have switched over partners so we can find the fastest pairing for who will then be paired together end for the end of May.
Tuesday 6 May
Super excited; today me and Laura got back on the tandem. Laura had 8 weeks off the bike due to a broken collar bone and we are really looking forward to getting back on the track together.
Monday 12 May
Laura and I are going for the flying 200 qualifying time today after only 2 training sessions. We got up and ended up doing an 11.6 which was under the qualifying time again:-) great effort after Laura having no track time for 2 months.
Tuesday 13 May
Today is Groundhog Day for Fiona and I! Depending on the time Aileen and Fiona do for the kilo will determine who the pairings will be. Laura and I are unable to do a standing kilo as Laura still can't start properly with her collarbone but we don't get out of doing the effort that easily though… It will be a rolling kilo for us. I'm so nervous waiting on Fiona and Aileen doing their effort! It turns out their time was slightly slower than mine and Aileen's. I am just glad today is over! Now it's the waiting game to see if we are selected and who the pairings will be.
Wed 21 May
Travelling to Holland with Laura today as she needs to be classified before Glasgow by an international doctor! I will be going with Laura as Fiona has a friend’s wedding. This is going to be a long journey and I am not looking forward to it. We are getting the ferry from Hull meaning a lovely 5 hour drive in the Scottish cycling van, before a 12 hour ferry to Rotterdam. I am so glad Laura's husband Joe is coming with us and driving.
We were sharing houses with the GB squad who were over doing the tandem tour. Me and Laura had to start the first race of the tour which was a 6km time trial, this is part of the process whilst getting classified. We didn't have to do any of the other races as Laura's collarbone isn't healing properly, so the doctor advised us not to race any of the criterium's or road races. I was quite glad about that. After our race on the Saturday we started our return journey back home! Another 12 hours on the ferry and another 5 hour drive home from Hull 🙁 we eventually got home at 2pm on Sunday afternoon.. I was knackered.
Tues 27 May
Media training today, really been dreading today as hate cameras and getting interviewed… However, I survived and actually really enjoyed the session! Learned so much with what to say and what not to say! Fingers crossed my next interview will go better than my last:-)
Thurs 29 May
Team Scotland announcement for Glasgow 2014 today! Super excited but also really nervous. It's only 8 weeks until the biggest competition of my life.
Well today I got to test my interview skills as had a double one with Aileen! She told me it was just a photo shoot, but as soon as I got there she told me the great news that it was an interview! (She tricked me…. Sneaky!) I had been selected!
Thursday 4 June
Another fab weeks training on track with Aileen, now for a just as busy weekend! If I'm not at the velodrome training, I'm standing at the side of a football pitch with my son riley! He's footy daft and training with Hearts at the moment!
Tuesday 1 July
Today was our first session back on the velodrome in Glasgow and we would be on our new tandem 🙂 This only got delivered to us on the last couple of days so we haven't really got a proper feel for it.
After warming up on the track, we knew there was something not right with the tandem, but with no mechanics around we couldn't really put our finger on it. We decided to get on with the session, trying to put aside any issues we had with the bike. However out first set of starts, there was a massive crunch which didn't sound good! We pulled over and Kevin had a look at the bike, this was not a good sign! After having had to wait about 7 months for the tandem, it has pretty much lasted us 2 training sessions!
We have been at our holding camp in Manchester since last Monday. Since then we have cracked our replacement tandem from Cyfac! So in the space of 2 weeks both the Cyfac tandems have cracked! Definitely a company I will never use again. So close to the games and with no decent bike to use, this has definitely not been the start we wanted leading up to the biggest competition of my life. With this happening it has really helped me look at things and realise you cannot always sort the things you wish you could! So we are now back on our training bike, this is heavy and bent but it's all we have, so we have learnt to deal with the situation. On a positive note we are still continuing to produce personal bests on this bike, while it's not the best it's a bike and it moves!
Saturday 19th July
Today the cycling team moved into the athletes village! This place is amazing, really great atmosphere and a brilliant place to be before competing in a few days. The next few days are just normal training days, we are still riding on our training bike and will definitely be racing on this too.
Wednesday 23rd July
This is the day before we race, tomorrow we have the tandem sprint. Really starting to feel nervous now…
Thurs 24th July
Race day! We started warming up about 9.40 and got a couple of efforts out on the track before the track closed for the session. All my family were there watching, Riley also got to press the minute countdown timer for the cycling to begin. I was really starting to get nervous again, the Welsh pairing were up first and clocked an 11.9, Laura and Fiona were up next and clocked another 11.9 something, slightly slower than the Welsh pairing! By this point I realised the conditions on the track weren't great and the air pressure was really high; I don't think there will be any super-fast times today. One of the Australian pairings were up next and posted a time of 11.6, me and Aileen up next and posted 11.4, 2 tandems left, next up Australia 11.6 and lastly the English pairing 11.2!
We qualified 2nd so through to the semi-final rides. Me and Aileen were up against the fastest Australian pairing and we won 2-0 meaning we qualified for the gold/silver medal rides later on:-) super happy.
Our first ride against England was so close and only got beaten by a tiny margin! We ended up getting best 2-0 and won the silver medal! Really happy with our performance and a nice silver medal too.
Sunday 27th July
My god I thought I was nervous for the sprint, but this was a million times worse! Me and Aileen were the 4th tandem to start, which meant as long as we went faster than the other 3 we would be guaranteed a medal!
We rode our fastest time ever, a 1.09.7 which was a new Commonwealth record! The Australian tandem were up after us and ride a 1.11 so we were guaranteed silver at this point. Sophie and Helen were up next from England, we knew unless they didn't ride well it would be another silver for us. The girls smashed our time with a 1.08.1, amazing ride by them.
Overall a very successful games for me and Aileen! Over the moon with 2 silvers.
Now we have finished competing we can enjoy watching some of the other sports and cheering on team Scotland.