Saturday, April 20, 2024

Lusia Steele – Position Three in Scotland’s Games Team Sprint Squad

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HomeInterviewsLusia Steele - Position Three in Scotland's Games Team Sprint Squad

Continuing our series of interviews with Scots who have been selected for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games – but with track cycling events taking place on the Lee Valley ‘Pringle’ Velodrome in London – we talk with sprinter Lusia Steele.

The first British medal for Lusia Steele came in 2017 where she took bronze in the junior 500 meters Time Trial championship; one year later she made the title hers and added the Junior Sprint for good measure. 

Since then there have been more national and European medals, and now Lusia Steele represents Scotland in track cycling events which may not have the breadth of nationalities of a Worlds or Olympics but certainly have the quality – England, Wales, Australia, New Zealand and Canada all field strong teams across the disciplines.

The ladies Team Sprint event, which is her main focus, has enjoyed a change in recent times, going from two riders to three to bring it into line with the men’s event. 

At the last Games in 2018 it was run under the two rider format with Australia winning from New Zealand and England. 

At the 2021 World Track Championships it was run with three riders with Germany winning won from Russia and GB. 

Lusia Steele. Photo©supplied

The basic information first please, Lusia?

“I’m 21 year-old from Erskine in Renfrewshire and I got into cycling through my dad. Along with a friend of his they set up the Johnstone Jets youth cycling team.

“I used to ride Glasgow Velodrome at weekends but we’d also travel to Meadowbank track in Edinburgh and Caird Park track in Dundee to race.”

Which of your performances so far give you most satisfaction?

“That would be the silver medal in the 2020 u23 European Championship Team Sprint where we were second to Russia.” 

Which of the British Cycling programmes are you on?

“I’m with the BC u23 Academy based in Manchester.”  

Lusia Steele in early career action for the Johnstone Jets. Photo©supplied

What’s the training regime like?

“It depends on the time of year but there are different ‘blocks’ which we focus on:

“Strength training involves a lot of weight lifting – we need that to get the big gears off the line in the Team Sprint.

“A power block involves five or six weights sessions and four or five on the track each week.

“Speed training comes two weeks before an event and involves work behind the motorbike.”

You specialise in Team Sprint, riding position three, so you’re the one that actually crosses the finish line – that must be pressured?

“My focus is perhaps 97% on the Team Sprint, yes, and the other three percent on other disciplines.

“The Team Sprint is the big focus for British Cycling and the one I work hardest at. 

“But the pressure isn’t so much at the finish, it’s more about getting on the wheel of the other two at the start, out of the gate; if you’re position three then you ride the furthest distance and you have a bigger gear to get off the line – I’ll be on a 104” or 106” ratio.” 

[WOW! ed.]

What’s the Scotland squad for the team sprint?

“Position one is Iona Moir, Lauren Bell, who you’ve spoken to, is position two with me in position three.”

What are your thoughts on the ladies Team Sprint going from two up to three riders?

“I like it, I think it was a positive move, it opens the door for more riders; you have three riders plus reserve so there are four girls who get the opportunity to be part of it.” 

Will you ride other disciplines at the Games?

“It’s not been finally decided yet but there’s the Individual Sprint, the 500 metres Time Trial and the Keirin all to be raced; I’m quite nervous about it because there’s a possibility of me racing five days back-to-back.”

Have you ridden the Lee Valley track before? 

“Yes but it was a wee while ago and I don’t remember too much about it.” 

I was looking at the Worlds Team Sprint qualification – GB [England] and Canada both qualified top four. 

“It’s a tough ask for us, yes – but I think we’ll be ready for it on the day albeit we’ve had a difficult period, I’m just back after time out and Iona has been doing her A Levels at school so it’s perhaps hard to know exactly where we’re at right now.”

How does your final preparation for the Games look?

“I’m off to the Czech Republic to ride the GP Brno which is a UCI Class 2 event on June 18th and 19th, I’ll be riding the Sprint and Keirin there.”

[Lusia was 13th in the Keirin and 11th in the Sprint at Brno. ed]

“After that we have a training camp in France – and I hope to fit in some more racing after that before we go to the final pre-Games training camp in Glasgow.” 

The Glasgow Worlds 2023 must be in your mind?

“Whilst I like to just think about one race at a time, yes of course – but first we have the Games.”

Your ambitions for the Games?

“I’d love for us to bag a Team Sprint medal; we know it’ll tough, up against Canada, England and Wales but I think we can give good account of ourselves – and set us up for the European and World Track Championships which are in France in October.” 

As with all of Scotland’s cycling athletes for the Games, VeloVeritas wishes Lusia every success.