Olympic Cyclist returns to former Athletes' Village

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Posted: 30.Oct.2017 Author: Jamie Smith

Despite the temperature dropping and the days getting shorter, there was still plenty of heat being generated in E20 last week as the world's best cyclists descended for Six Day Cycling.

Among them was multiple Olympic medallist Steven Burke, returning to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park velodrome track where he claimed the gold medal at London 2012. He also returned to the former Athletes' Village, now East Village, and spoke to us about a range of subjects including his memories of his time here during the Olympics. He then went on to speak at East Village's very own cycle shop, Pave Velo, where he met with an awed group of eager cycling fans.

"It's brilliant coming back to East Village," Steven said. "The apartments look even better now Get Living London has done a great job with them. It was five to an apartment during the Olympics, and there weren't any kitchens or living rooms.

"It's really nice to come back to the athletes' village and to reminisce. It's just so close to the velodrome as well so it was great at London 2012 to have such a short walk to our races."

Steven has now competed in three Olympics, first claiming a bronze medal at Beijing in 2008, and most recently powering his way to another gold in the team event in Rio in 2016. Being an Olympic veteran he's seen his fair share of athletes' villages and the rarified atmosphere behind the scenes.

"It's by far the best Olympic Village I've stayed in," he said. "Before the race day you're so focused, just as everyone is, but once you've competed you do then socialise with the other athletes and are able to let yourself really experience it. You can really tell walking around the village who are the ones who have already competed and who hasn't. You feel very sorry for the last ones to compete. I think the last ones were boxing at 2012 and they have to keep their focus while everyone else is letting go a bit more."

Despite being very focused on cycling in the team pursuit event which has brought him so much success, Steven was competing in the Six Day Cycling event last week which threw up a different set of challenges for him.

"It's been my first Winter Six Day event. I love the team pursuit because you work so hard for each other, but there is a lot more racing and a lot more variety in six day events. I train for a sub four-minute event so this is completely different.

"I'm cycling with Chris Latham who is a lot more experienced at it than me despite being younger so it's great learning from him. There's so much to think about, particularly in the Madison - it's tactical and technical.:"

For many people who have competed and won medals at three Olympics keeping the energy and focus for training and the discipline required would become a challenge, but does he feel like taking his foot off the pedal?

"I train six times a week and am always preparing," Steven explained. "I think you just have to think of what it is you're wanting to achieve, so I don't think of drinking beer or eating pizza. I just flick the switch. If it's New Years and you're leading up to Olympics and everyone else is having a few drinks it actually isn't that hard not to join in, because it is just about staying focused.

"I'm a really competitive person. I've always loved cycling, from when I started when I was 13. I love the social side, a lot of my friends are in cycling whether it's on the national stage or at my local club and that helps me stay focused. 

"The main thing is to enjoy what you're doing. To make it all the way you've got to train so hard at all times and if you don't love it then you're less likely to succeed."

Lucky for British Cycling that Steven is still very much in love with the sport and has his eyes firmly fixed on pedalling through to the next Olympics in 2020.

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