Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Kathy Gilchrist – the New Scottish Cycling President

"I want the cubs to have a voice, listen to what they need. We want their voices to be heard in the SC boardroom."

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HomeInterviewsKathy Gilchrist - the New Scottish Cycling President

The name ‘Gilchrist’ is a famous one in Scottish Cycling with Mr. Sandy Gilchrist, star of road, track and time trial, as one of its most lauded sons.

And now there’s another Gilchrist making the headlines in Scottish Cycling, Sandy’s US born wife, Kathy was recently elected President of Scottish Cycling.

Best ‘have a word’, we thought.

Kathy Gilchrist
Kathy Gilchrist with previous Scottish Cycling CEO, Craig Burn. Photo©supplied

Congratulations on the appointment, let’s begin by asking where you originally hail from?

“I grew up in Rochester, up-state New York, but spent most of my professional life in Houston, Texas.”

How did you originally get into cycling?

“My dad raced and my grandfather was involved in cycling administration so I’m from ‘cycling stock’.

“I started touring with the local club then one day my dad said to me, ‘here, sign this.’

“Then he added; ‘Congratulations, you’ve just signed your third category race licence application!’”

Kathy Gilchrist
Kathy Gilchrist at the start of a criterium in her youth. Photo©supplied

You raced then?

“Yes, 99% on the road but I did some track racing, there wasn’t a velodrome near to us but I raced on flat tracks and old speedway ‘bowls.’

“I focussed on shorter events, mainly criteriums, races like   the Somerville Classic, Fitchburg, Milwaukee, the Tour of Florida…”

Kathy Gilchrist
Kathy Gilchrist edges a win. Photo©supplied

What brought you to Bonnie Scotland?

“Sandy!

“I grew up with the sport, family, club mates, friends, we all loved the sport and Sandy and I share that love.

“When I stopped racing I was away from the sport for three or four years, not involved at all.

“Then one day I was out for a drive in the country and saw a race taking place and realised how much I’d missed it.

“I got involved again and cut my teeth as a commissaire on the Tour of Texas.”

Kathy Gilchrist
Sandy and Kathy Gilchrist. Photo©supplied

And you’ve worked on three Olympics?

“Yes, and each one had unique experiences for me. At Atlanta I was in-field track manager, with my experience of running Houston Velodrome.

“I also helped with the media at the Time Trial in ’96.

“In London 2012 I was on the staff and my memory is that we prepared and trained so much – but then it has to be perfect on the day.

“I worked on the road and MTB events.

“And in Rio in 2016, it was the exact opposite; the tradesmen were still working on construction of the velodrome when we arrived but the local people were so dedicated, they really put their heart into making a success of it for their country and for the athletes.

“I worked on liaison at the track and on the MTB races.”

Why did you want to be president of the SCU?

“To give back and to make a difference.

“I’ve run teams and I’ve run a velodrome, I thought to myself; “what can I do to allow folks to enjoy or sport?

“Not just riders who want to go to the Olympics but folks who just want to go out and ride their bikes.”

Kathy Gilchrist
Kathy Gilchrist (back, 2nd left) and colleagues with the famous London Olympic Time Trial ‘Gold Throne’. Photo©supplied

The ‘integrated’ Glasgow Worlds 2023, a big occasion for Scottish Cycling.

“It’s an opportunity for the sport to make a difference not just for cycling but a showcase for health, business, tourism, mental health, it’s a vehicle for all these things.”

What about the rumours of the Tour de France starting in Scotland?

“You probably know more about it than me but if you think of the success Britain has made of the Yorkshire Tour Grand Depart and Worlds, then there’s the very successful Fort William MTB World Cup…”

Some might say that Scottish Cycling has concentrated more on membership than organising races?

“Perhaps that’s a fair criticism but there’s a new strategy in place with SC and with BC where whilst we need membership, we must concentrate more on infrastructure.

“We need to involve all levels, start with the clubs, education of organisers, development through all levels from local time trials and the likes of the Glentress (MTB trails) kids races upwards; we want to strengthen the base of the sport.”

Kathy Gilchrist
Kathy Gilchrist has been involved in developing youth sport since her days managing the Houston velodrome in Texas. Photo©supplied

What are your priorities?

“I want the cubs to have a voice, listen to what they need. We want their voices to be heard in the SC boardroom.

“Then there’s event infrastructure and telling the story of, and celebrating our success; not just what Katie Archibald and Neah Evans have achieved but also success stories like the achievements of the folks who run Glasgow Track League so well.

“We should be talking about and celebrating all disciplines which make up our sport – cycle speedway, BMX, track, road, time trials, MTB…”

What’s the future for Time Trialling with SC – the CTT seem to have picked up that baton?

“I’d like to see us more involved in Time Trials, you only have to look at Sandy’s career against the watch to see what a rich history of time trialling there is in Scotland.

“We should celebrate them no matter who puts them on, be it SC or CTT.

“SC and BC will embrace any organisation which contributes and runs races.”

In the past the SCU sent road teams to races down south and abroad, why not now?

“We’re already back doing that to an extent, prior to Covid we were going to have a Scottish ‘trade’ team on the track to enable international competition – but funding is always a constraint… it was back in Sandy’s time and it still is; we need to attract sponsors.

“However the Scottish Cycling Academy is providing mentorship and the opportunity to race in Europe, with the goal to get a rider into the professional peloton.

“But it’s not just about that. We want to produce well-rounded young men and women through that programme.”

Kathy Gilchrist
Kathy Gilchrist sees cycling as a way of developing well-rounded youngsters. Photo©supplied

What other things would you like to see happen during your tenure?