Slowly but surely the focus returns. Based on inner reserves, the British Olympians adjust their gaze – and prepare for a new battle.
Like any other elite member of Team GB, Katie Archibald should now have gone to Tokyo.
The Scottish cyclist hesitates before admitting to feel a little broken at the postponement of those summer games; logic tells her there was no other option in the midst of a global pandemic.
Katie Archibald should have gone to Tokyo at the moment, but adjusts her gaze
However, the feeling of loss lingers. And with new goals on the calendar, with the Manchester Velodrome on the horizon and new goals to hit, the Olympic gold medalist – and three-time world champion – feels more open.
When asked how she was, not so much a probing question as the opening of a chat prior to the interview, Archibald told Sportsmail: “It’s funny because the answer to that question would have been different six weeks ago.
“Now that we have been in this pattern since March, I have really agreed to it. If anything, I am supported by the privilege of consistency.
“But I was rather despondent to begin with. I just didn’t want the Games postponed, you know?
“And I’m even nervous when I say that, because they clearly had to be put back.
“It was an emotional response separate from any rational response. But I now desperately wanted to go to Tokyo.
The Scottish cyclist had a hard time with the postponement, but is now looking at new goals
“I’d say I’m reset and motivated now because it’s next summer. I am very fond of positive thinking.
“There are many similarities in how we all deal with lockdown, with isolation.
“But I don’t think anyone threw anyone to say,” I’m lonely. ” As long as it wasn’t, “I’m lonely, fuck everyone – I’m going out.” Everyone is largely aware of their role. But it still bothered me a bit. ‘
The sense of life interruption is, of course, a common symptom of lockdown. For athletes stuck with training programs, real concerns sometimes invaded their slightly cocooned existence.
“I actually moved just before the closure,” Archibald revealed. “I would race in Manchester the same weekend.
“I took a van, I went to the race – and then the race was canceled due to the risk of contamination in a huge indoor stadium.
“So I moved and then we were all locked up. And I think that people have the impression that I have to arrange everything now.
“It’s like,” You’re in the new house, why didn’t you unpack all the boxes? You are there all day, find out! “And the other strange thing is that I am close to my family again, back in Glasgow, closer to my mother, a father, my brother is here again.
The Commonwealth Games 2018 gold medalist says she thinks very positively
“But until recently I couldn’t even see them. That was a stranger, even though it was nice to be at home.
‘Now? The cycling track in Manchester has been in operation for a few weeks. But we didn’t get through as a team because only one person was allowed on the track at a time, which is not ideal for team pursuit.
“We will start again in August. The last thing I heard, we didn’t have to wear face masks for team efforts – and that’s great news!
“The work they did to make the cycling track functional was great.
“The goal is hopefully the European Championship in November, that’s our league goal. But that is not 100 percent.
“So the training really continues without too much of a funnel to race-specific first, another few months.”
Training without an end goal is an athlete’s idea about purgatory. Although the sports calendar remains so uncertain, subject to peaks and new lockdowns, it is important to have focus.
Archibald says her league goal will hopefully be the European Championship in November
Based on experience and looking at the best possible future program, Archibald said, “What’s funny is that in interviews we give during an Olympic cycle, it always comes back to us:” Yeah, well, the big goal is Rio . The big goal is Tokyo … “” I’m sure I’ll talk like that again soon. It’s not that hard to say, look, I don’t know which race I’m going to do in two months, but I’m focusing on the Olympics next summer.
“ What’s interesting is that we now have the Summer 2021 Olympics, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in the Summer of 2022, and the Summer of 2023, for the first time, we have a multi-discipline cycling world championship – and that is in Glasgow.
“That’s a pretty big deal for me, knowing that for the next three years we’ll be bouncing, we’ll have these big summer goals.
“So I really hope Tokyo continues. But even without it, I can still hold on to future goals. ‘
Articulate and witty, intelligent, sometimes downright hilarious, Archibald shuns the kind of pre-approved scripts loved by public minders.
She is just happy to talk, go back and forth, even to ask her own questions.
Archibald and her teammates in the UK have big summer goals three years in a row
Although separated from her colleagues and friends in the team pursuit, as well as the wider cycling group, that is becoming increasingly important.
The 26-year-old laughs as she explains how regular video conferences have led to deeper conversations.
When you meet someone in the hallway every day, she explains, the chat rarely goes beyond the usual “Hey, are you okay?” Now they actually ask each other to open up. Is everything really okay? If you don’t ask, you will never find out.
Back on practical topics, she looks forward to returning to her training base in Manchester.
While it sounds incredibly strange to anyone not immersed in the world of track cycling, she talks about missing the leg press machines in the way rock stars discuss a favorite guitar.
She’ll also be happy to give her a bad, battered road bike – the only machine she’s had while locking – to keep her from being driven into the ground, taken apart, and reassembled with new parts.
And being an Olympian, Archibald knows she has to say something else.
Archibald also showed her excitement when she returned to her training base in Manchester
The ‘plug’ tripping over the right way to introduce the topic, admitting she’s ‘not very good’ at just shoe horning problems in a conversation, still has to be delivered.
“The fact that Tokyo supports everything, even though the goal has been dropped this year, remains the ultimate ambition,” she said.
“And that makes me extra grateful to the players of the National Lottery, the biggest supporters of the team.
“So that’s all fantastic. And a big thank you to the players of the National Lottery. ‘
You’re very welcome, Katie. Even if we have to wait another year for that next crack in Olympic glory, it still feels like value for money.
No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise approximately £ 30 million a week for charities.
Discover the positive impact playing The National Lottery on www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and #TNLAthletes #TracktoTokyo