Drayton & Taverham

Meet the Taverham man behind Team GB’s pedal power

Just Regional
Sep 12, 2016 7 mins read

Jason Kenny and his soon-to-be wife Laura Trott, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish – these are just some of the big names in the British Cycling team that resulted in a hugely successful Rio Olympics. Head coach Iain Dyer can also be added to that list. We caught up with him to get his Olympic story.

Can you fill us in on your Taverham background?
I moved to Taverham with my family when I was 11, from Hingham. I did one year at Taverham Middle School, then went to Taverham High School. That was 1984-88 and I think it was fairly new back then, and considerably smaller than it appears to be now!
From there I chose to go to City College in Norwich and did three years there, plus a year out working to save some money for university. I went to Carnegie at Leeds Beckett Park as it’s now known between 1992-95. Shortly after starting university my family moved house, my brother got his own place as well, so I never came back to Taverham to live again at that point.
I am now settled in Northwich, Cheshire, about 45 minutes away from the team’s base in Manchester. I’ve been married to Rachel for 15 years, and we have two children; our daughter Cameron who is nine, and James who is four.
My mum and dad have moved around a bit, but are now settled in Dereham, and my brother lives in Hethel, so while I get back to Norfolk from time to time I seldom get the chance to go back to Taverham sadly.

Did your experiences here influence your path to become head coach of the British Cycling team?

While living in Taverham, when I was about 12 years old, BMX racing first exploded in the UK. A group of friends and our parents got together and formed Norwich Flyers BMX Club and built a BMX track in Costessey. From that point on BMX and later, other types of cycling, formed a massive part of my life. Those early days were central to my love of cycling and my desire to train to be a better athlete.
Around the same time, a javelin thrower called Tim Newenham, who was based in Norwich, visited Taverham High School to do some coaching. I was keen, and Tim took me under his wing and coached me to numerous school and county titles.
Meeting Tim was pivotal in my career as it opened my eyes to training and coaching possibilities. Although I stopped throwing in my early 20s, I’ve remained good friends with Tim ever since, and as my post-university career began Tim continued to play an essential role in my development.
The PE department at THS was always very good to me and the teachers I had there I can still remember by name, and I have good memories of my time there.
I can distinctly recall as a teenager at school aspiring to be a full time coach working with a National Governing Body in sport. At that time it seemed a bit pie in the sky as no-one ever got paid for doing that sort of thing back then. Fortunately for me every time I was ready to take a step forward, an opportunity was there for me.
With the advent of National Lottery funding in the 90s the possibilities really opened up for people like me to work full time in elite sport.

What did the lead up to the Rio Olympics involve?
As head coach my job was to oversee all of the programmes and delivery to the Olympic disciplines, from road, to track and BMX etc. Qualifying all the spots in Rio is half the battle, and a lot of work goes into simply getting there, as Olympic cycling is a very competitive sport across the board.
Qualification events had begun two years before, so that in itself is a long road. By April this year we knew where we were up to in qualification terms, so the last part is focussed on helping the discipline-specific coaches refine their team numbers and shape selection so by the end of June all of the teams are finalised.
The road riders are all involved with the professional teams and they have their own responsibilities and calendar, so they tend to parachute in late (The Tour de France finished only two weeks before the Olympics), whereas the track riders have a very dedicated in-house preparation phase.
The two weeks before we travelled to Rio the track riders have a holding camp in Newport South Wales. We stay at a good hotel locally and minimise all distraction for the riders and just aim to perfect the final part of preparation. The build up over the summer had been difficult due to the technical director resigning and our team being in the media spotlight, so it felt good to get to Newport and focus everyone on athletic performance and getting the staff team working as an effective unit.

How did it all go from your point of view?
Once we were there and in the groove it felt like it was going well and we could possibly come away with some medals.
The team sprint winning gold on the first evening, and the team pursuit teams qualifying so well also, really settled everyone because it became apparent that ‘our best’ was competitive or better than our rivals.
From then on it was about delivering and executing the task.

How do you handle reported comments from the other teams about how GB won so many medals?

A lot gets blown up in the media and I had a feeling that it was important to keep a level perspective on how we were achieving our performances and winning so many medals.
Without hearing comments directly from riders or other teams, being faced with pressing questions by the media can be difficult. It was important to not react too strongly. We aim to generate a true performance peak at each Olympics and consider everything prior to that as a build up; that means we are capable of making a step forward come the games, whereas some teams remain fully committed to world or continental championships every year, which makes stepping up at the games difficult.
So while we move forward, some teams even go backwards, which makes the gap in performance and our perceived dominance more tangible.

Have you had a break since coming back?
I had a week off which allowed me to squeeze in a family holiday before my children went back to school.

What are you working towards now?
We’re straight back into our regular season, while still completing the road season. So next month we have the Road Race World Championships in Doha, and I go straight from there to the first big event of the track season, the European Track Championships in Paris. Our track season will then go through Europe to South America and finish up in Hong Kong in April for the World Championships.

Big question: will you be going to Laura and Jason’s wedding next month?
While I was invited, I’m not able to make it unfortunately as my wife and I already had plans to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

Sir Chris Hoy talks with Great Britain coaches Iain Dyer and Justin Grace. Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com

Sir Chris Hoy talks with Great Britain coaches Iain Dyer and Justin Grace. Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com

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