Team GB boss reflects on Olympic "conundrums" after Track Worlds success
It was an up and down few days for Great Britain at the 2012 Track World Championships in Melbourne last week, but things ended on a high for David Brailsford's squad as it finished the championships on top of the medal table for Olympic events ahead of its big rivals for this summer's Games, Australia.
Brailsford does have a selection dilemma on his plate over the next few weeks though following Jason Kenny's defeat of Sir Chris Hoy in the semi-finals of the individual sprint. In their last competitive international outing before the selection panel finalises the Olympic squad, the 24-year-old Kenny outperformed his more experienced rival, who is the defending Olympic champion in that event, putting himself in pole position to claim the sole Team GB berth for the London 2012 Olympics.
Hoy has bestrode British track cycling like a colossus for the last decade or so and in some people's minds it is unthinkable that he will be denied the chance to defend his title in front of home fans in August. The 36-year-old Scot will point to the fact that the score this year between the two men stands at 3-1 in his favour - but the old adage that you're only as good as your last performance may be impossible to ignore for a man like Brailsford, who has never let reputations get in the way of progress. And it won't be the only tough decision he will have to make before the summer.
"Selecting that team is very difficult," Brailsford told BBC Sport. "It doesn't matter what you've done in the past. Our job is to pick the fastest guy."
Hoy put the disappointment behind him on the final day in Melbourne, racing to gold with a dramatic victory in the men's keirin on Easter Sunday - resurrecting his reputation after it had suffered the twin humblings of the loss to Kenny and the disqualification of Great Britain's sprint team a couple of days earlier. He is warm favourite to successfully defend his 2008 title in that race, but faces an agonising wait to see exactly what events he will be participating in this time round.
Having said that, he may be put of his misery ahead of the August 3 deadline, with Brailsford claiming that the key to successful preparation might involve informing athletes of their selection sooner rather than later.
"The dilemma is that if you select now the riders know what they are doing and can train a little bit more specifically," he said. "The downside is that in 16 weeks anyone's form might not be the same. That is the conundrum - late for form, but early for clarity of purpose."
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