Wakefield cyclist on track for Olympic Development Programme

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WAKEFIELD cycling sensation Oliver Wood is hoping his superb year in the saddle will earn him a place on the prestigious Olympic Development Programme (ODP).

The 15-year-old Outwood Grange Academy student has packed 2011 with successes in various cycling disciplines and will find out if his form has been enough to be selected for the in-demand ODP next month.

The Wrenthorpe cyclist, who has been part of the Olympic Talent Programme for the last year, has become one of the hottest cycling talents in the country this year.

But he faces stiff competition for a place on the ODP, which gathers the best cyclists aged between 16-18 years old for elite training, with only three top talents usually selected.

Selection would be the next step on the ladder towards the Olympic Podium Programme, which trains the best cyclists from around Britain.

And Wood, who names Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins as his sporting idols, will certainly be on the ODP radar thanks to some top performances of late on both the track and the road.

His potential was highlighted when he became the youngest ever rider to win a senior National Endurance 20km scratch race at the Yorkshire and Humberside Championships in Scunthorpe.

It followed a second-placed finish in the final race of the National U16 Road Series in south Wales, which was enough to see him win the series overall.

The Aire Valley Racing Team cyclist has also enjoyed success on the track and he shone at the National Track Championships at Manchester Velodrome.

He won gold in the 10km scratch race, silver in the 2km individual pursuit and sprint and bronze in the 10km points race.

Cycling runs in the Wood family, with his dad Alastair a former professional cyclist who raced alongside former Olympic champion Chris Boardman for Great Britain. His brother Reece is also an up-and-coming young cyclist.

Oliver will be hoping to give the ODP selectors one last push this weekend when he travels to Wales to compete in the Inter-Regional Championships with his Yorkshire team-mates.

He’s looking for sponsors to help with travel and equipment costs and anyone interested should contact his dad Alastair on 07821 712742.

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