James Lawton: Cycling mastermind Dave Brailsford has momentum to inspire another generation

He has the classic combination of hard man style and the trick of motivation

There was no end to the celebrities in the Velodrome when the greatest little show in town completed another sensational Olympic run on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, none of the football players who represented England in their latest penalty shoot-out failure in Kiev were sighted.

This was a great pity because they missed some supreme examples of nerve and grace under the most serious pressure as Britain's gold medal count in the building swelled to an astounding seven out of 10.

The comparison is inevitable the moment you consider the vast resources devoted over the years to the football team, including the £6m-a-year wages paid to former coach Fabio Capello and more recently the not inconsiderable cost of flying them nearly 1,000 miles to their most vital games in Ukraine on account of their need to enjoy pleasant little walks and the occasional cappuccino in some agreeable café in the tourist-friendly city of Krakow, Poland.

In the rush of celebration over the cycling team's second straight invasion of an Olympics, it was certainly amusing to imagine the tolerance level team performance director Dave Brailsford might have applied to the complaints of a Wayne Rooney that he got too easily bored in some out-of-the-way training establishment.

When one of the cycling team's stars, 31-year-old Victoria Pendleton, announced her retirement after a bitterly disappointing silver medal in her final event she said it was time to start a normal life, do things like having the occasional drink and not training hour upon hour, day after day.

She said she had done all she could, which was hardly a confession of underachievement when you remembered the broad outline of her career success : two Olympic gold medals, one silver, nine World Championship golds, five silvers, two bronze, and two European Championship golds and one silver.

The cycling team doesn't do shoot-outs, of course, but then they are no strangers to fine margins, as Sir Chris Hoy reminded us when he held his nerve under a fierce counter-attack from the German Maximilian Levy and came home by 0.065sec. This, of course, delivered him his sixth gold medal.

First we had the historic triumph of Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France, then he mopped up the Olympic time trial. Then we had the brilliant, hair-trigger slugfest in the Velodrome.

Brailsford, the director of the Wiggins triumphs that ended in the Champs-Elysées and Hampton Court, moved indoors with the usual bristling determination to get the best out of his charges. He has the classic winning combination of a hard-man style and the trick of producing with the highest levels of motivation.

He is not likely ever to have to follow Capello in the admission that he looked out to the field of action and didn't recognise his team.

Brailsford works up close and intensely and when he spoke yesterday of doing in Rio in four years something roughly comparable with the achievements in Beijing and London, we could be sure he had already discussed the possibilities in some depth with a superb and apparently nerveless new generation of natural-born gold medal winners,

Laura Trott, whose final time was beautifully conceived and executed as it knocked her American rival Sarah Hammer out of the lead and provided a second gold medal, was originally programmed for Rio but her progress had been dramatic enough to make her a star of the London boards at the age of 20. Making up the formidable new force, are the other gold medal winners, Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes.

It is a build of strength, you have to believe, that should surely become the model for sustained success on the international stage.

Certainly, in the thrust of its ambition, and the early identification and psychological conditioning of world-class performers, it might just have something to teach the Football Association along with many other areas of British sport.

The basic drive, Brailsford has always made clear, comes from a willingness to accept responsibility and the certainty of some extremely hard years.

When the London bid was landed, and the Government began diverting Lottery funds in pursuit of an impressive showing when the world came to visit, Brailsford saw both the opportunities and the pressure to succeed that had to be met full on.

He declared: "UK Sport and the Government have delivered and there are no excuses now. There are not many nations in the world who are getting the same backing. It is scary because all the obstacles have been removed."

So, he was quick enough to point out, had been the excuses.

When they closed the doors at the Velodrome, after all those sell-out houses, no one could say that there hadn't been spectacular value. This was a team which absorbed all the pressure and invariably kept its nerve.

 



News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor