Wednesday 29 June 2011

Geoff Cooke: A Brief Word!

Olympic and Commonwealth Games rider, Geoff Cooke was the principle guest at the recent opening of the new Bournemouth Velodrome.
Still catching his breath from the exhibition match sprint, I grabbed a quick chat with the former national cycling coach.

Geoff spoke with passion about the new track, saying it was “as good an outdoor track as I have ever ridden” you are not just saying that I ask with too much scepticism, “No I am really not just saying that it’s absolutely fantastic, in America you know, for the Olympics in 1984

They had a track in Los Angeles for the games but they also had a track in Colorado Springs and everybody could ride it, it was still superbly fast but everybody could ride it you see and that’s what you have got here”
Geoff Cooke rode for Great Britain in the Olympic games in 1972 and won Commonwealth gold in the tandem sprint in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974. He has also won 40 National Championships, 8 European Championships and 22 World Championships as a master. He was the National coach for 10 years “but it was all part time, you made a bit of money out of it but I had to stop and go back to a proper job because I had a family and everything” He worked as head of leisure for a borough council and also worked with various teams. “”I got a phone call from Dave Brailsford himself and he said I want to make you an offer you cannot refuse, come and look after the kids. I did that till my retirement age, I went on to work with Welsh Cycling but they just wanted bums on seats and I did not want to do that, I wanted performance”
Ellie Coster

Cooke has been coaching and working with 15 year old Ellie Coster. She is a talented rider who, he thinks, is destined for great things. Coster had just beaten her coach and mentor in the match sprint, ok it may have been choreographed a little but she still looked more than capable. “Did you let her win? I ask cheekily: “Sorry” he exclaims “Oh you don’t let em win” he laughs. “I have been training with her ahead of the Nationals ( The National Masters this weekend in Newport) “She was putting 3 lengths into me, well I don’t hang around you know! I’m still feeling pretty good I do around 12 seconds for 200 metres”

I ask Geoff what he thinks will make the track a local success; "Its just getting the youngsters, the kids from Bournemouth. Once it becomes the place to be, once you get some of the big hitters coming down and wanting to do it and you start getting kids fit, thats what its about, its about the kids!" Do you think it is imperative that the local clubs are involved? "Yes,Yes, they dont get all critical of it, come down here and have fun, come down and just ride the bloody thing and have fun. You will get a community atmosphere and it will self- police itself, it really will!"

It was easy to talk to Geoff and his enthusiasm was clearly on show, indeed Geoff put on an impromptu coaching session the following day, putting Ellie, Para-Cycling world champion, Darren Kenny and the local track boys through their paces to the delight of the small crowd of local onlookers. Geoff will be riding the National Masters Championships this weekend at Newport Velodrome.

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