Craig Maclean the forgotten hero, by James Mccallum
Craig Maclean is cycling royalty.......Fact!
Here is why:-
Craig has been part of the Great British Cycling track team since the first stirrings of success in 1995. However, it wasn't until 1998 and the inclusion of lottery funding that the slow methodical wheels of success began to turn for Craig and the first steps that would lead to GB dominating track.
2 years later, whilst Jason Quealy sat in the start gate of the 1km TT at Sydney 2000 Olympics, little did he know that history was about to be made. On day 1 of competition “Quealy” won Team GBs 1st Gold medal. And just 24 hours later Craig joined Jason, along with (Sir) Chris Hoy, on the podium to receive a Silver medal in the team sprint. This was Craig’s only medal at the Olympics.
Since then our nation has been a runaway train smashing expectations “out of the park” at every given opportunity and Craig has been one of those riders lucky to be in the driving seat.
In 2002, Maclean pulled on his Team Scotland colours at Manchesters Commonwealth Games to bring home bronze in the Team sprint and 4 years later he went one better winning Gold at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games; returning home to a heroes welcome. Having received the freedom of Grantown on Spey in 2000, 2007 saw the “Craig Maclean Leisure Centre” open in his honour, in his very own home town.
2011 brought a new direction for Craig as a Tandem sprint pilot, achieving World Championship success with 5 world records to his name. Impressive! But when you look closer to home you can see the true versatility of the rider, he's won around 20 British championships covering everything from kilo to 20km scratch, with team sprints, individual sprints and Keirin chucked in for good measure. If you ask the man himself he honestly can't remember the exact number.
From the timeline above, you may notice a bit of a gap in Craig’s cycling achievements from 2007 to 2011. It was around this time that Craig's health started to play up. Time after time, year after year he would hit the form of his life only to end up sick at the crucial point in competition with no explanation why. After a great deal of investigation it turned out Craig had been living as a Coeliac sufferer (an autoimmune disorder which typically necessitates a gluten free diet to overcome its debilitating symptoms) since at least 1998, maybe even before, however this was eventually Diagnosed in 2009.
Finally for Craig, the answer to his sickness was clear to see and the path back to fitness and form opened up. (It also makes sense why I remember racing in Columbia with Craig 3 years ago and he had his bike bag full of Cornflakes in case he was unable to eat the food in the hotel.)
Present day and Craig is still showing he’s got top form; 3 weeks ago he kept up his place as cycling royalty with his 1st Paralympic Gold.
Welcome back Craig! We missed you!
But before I let him off the hook, a few fun facts about the man.
Thanks for the memories so far Craig, long may they continue.
James Mccallum is a Professional Cyclist for the Rapha Condor professional cycling team.