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Dame Sarah Storey: 'You’ll always face things that you can’t control'

Speaking ahead of the postponement of the Olympics and Paralympics, Dame Sarah Storey explained her approach - come what may

Before the UK went into partial-lockdown, although after it was already clear that coronavirus was a threat to life as normal, Dame Sarah Storey was booked attend an event at London's Olympic Velodrome. As the situation accelerated, the event was cancelled just a couple of days before it was due to go ahead so instead Cyclist spoke to the multiple World and Paralympic Champion over the phone.

The conversation took place ahead of the official confirmation that this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games would be held next year, becoming Tokyo 2020NE.

I'd been warned that Dame Sarah may not like to discuss the topic of coronavirus or the then possibility of the Games being postponed or cancelled.

However, I was interested in the more broad approach that top-tier athletes take to setbacks during their season.

'You control what you’re able to control. You can’t control the events being taken off the programme and similarly you couldn’t control if your flight got cancelled so you weren't able to get to a race,' Storey explained.

'You’ll always face things that you can’t control.'

With regards to the possibility, since confirmed, of the Games being moved to a difefrent date, she added, 'this is probably one of the biggest [event changes] that affects the most number of people, so the majority of athletes are not in control of anything apart from what they can do for training today, because day to day things are changing quite rapidly.'

Without a clear date to train and prepare for, knowing what to do when out on the bike and staying motivated to do it can be difficult for any level of rider, but Storey is happy to continue as she is for now.

'You don’t know when your race is so you wouldn’t necessarily be doing any specific race preparation at the moment. We’re in the training phase really as we don’t know when the first race is.'

'Base training is good at the moment, working towards the target of increasing power, being stronger, they’re the sort of things you do in the winter as a road athlete.'

Increasingly popular with amateurs and pros alike are apps such as Zwift and RGT which can give pros an outlet for the form they may have been building before all racing was suspended.

'Some athletes may decide they want to race on online platforms because they’ve got pent up energy or they’ve been preparing for a race imminently,' Storey explained. 'My personal race programme wasn’t going to start properly until mid-April, I was just doing local time-trials after the track season.'

She summed up her approach to this season by saying, 'essentially the first race of the year - if it’s the National Champs in June or it’s something in July - you just have to deal with it as it comes and make the best choices you can with the information you have available.'

Skoda Cycling Academy

The reason Dame Sarah and I were put in touch was to discuss the ongoing success of her Skoda Cycling Academy.

'The Cycling Academy is about 12 months old now and it’s absolutely fantastic,' Storey said, her passion for the project obvious.

'The four riders who have stayed on for a second year all have very individual plans and programmes and they come together and join forces for our campaign "this is our time", and they all feel – as everyone does within women’s cycling and outside of that – it’s vital we utilise our opportunity to close the gender gap.'

However, she added that 'we need a strategy at all levels as we have a very piecemeal approach' to solving gender disparities in cycling.

'There are regulations working towards that but we’ll need a change of attitude and a change of approach across all platforms, media and spectators, just all viewpoints in general.

'The Academy is going well and all the riders are progressing as individuals and they’re also learning vital skills off the bike, that don’t just help to support the campaign but also give them additional skills that affect their whole life.'

Dame Sarah Storey is the Principal of the Škoda DSI Cycling Academy that was set up to support aspiring female cyclists and address the gender imbalance in cycling. For more information visit