Merrie City cycling ace on track to live Olympic dream

editorial image

THE WHEELS are in full motion for one blossoming young cyclist from Wakefield to achieve his dream of competing in the Olympic Games.

Wrenthorpe’s Oliver Wood has been accepted on to British Cycling’s prestigious Olympic Development Programme (ODP) thanks to a superb year in the saddle.

The 15-year-old has been learning his trade in the Olympic Talent Programme for the last year but has become one of just four young cyclists - two male and one female - aged between 16 and 18 in the country to be accepted on to the ODP this year.

He’ll be training in the track endurance discipline - his favoured race is the team pursuit - but will also be involved in high-profile junior road racing events across Europe.

The ODP is the second step on British Cycling’s four-step programme towards competing at the highest level. If things go well, the Outwood Grange Academy pupil will have two years with the ODP before progressing to the Olympic Academy (U23) Programme band then the Olympic Podium Programme (OPP) alongside the top cyclists in the country.

“It’s absolutely fantastic news for Oliver,” said his dad Alastair, himself a former professional cyclist.

“He’s had a great year and his results in 2011 were taken into consideration when cyclists were being picked for the ODP.

“It’s going to be a big step-up for him and a lot of hard work but I’m confident he has what it takes to make it.”

The 2012 London Olympics will come too soon for the highly-rated cycling sensation but a place in the 2016 Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, and the 2020 Olympics are realistic targets.

Wood had to apply for a place on the sought-after programme before the end of September and received an e-mail confirming his successful application last week.

He packed 2011 with successes in various cycling disciplines, something which undoubtedly aided his application.

He became the youngest ever rider to win a senior National Endurance 20km scratch race at the Yorkshire and Humberside Championships and also won the National U16 Road Series.

And his latest success came at the Manchester Velodrome when he picked up a silver medal in the National Madison Championships.

His idol is Bradley Wiggins, who trains with the OPP riders, and Wood will have the chance to train alongside him while on the ODP.

He’s currently enjoying a week off before travelling to Manchester Velodrome, the base for the ODP, on Saturday, October 22 for his week-long induction and he’ll officially start with the programme on Tuesday, November 1.

See this week’s Wakefield Express Sport for all the latest sports news from around the district.