Commonwealth Games: Melton’s Gary Coltman helps Scotland trump England in medal table

Melton's Gary Coltman has helped transform Svottish Cycling since arriving at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome five years ago PHOTO: Chris James EMN-181104-114532002
Melton's Gary Coltman has helped transform Svottish Cycling since arriving at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome five years ago PHOTO: Chris James EMN-181104-114532002
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Five years of hard work bore unexpected fruit for Gary Coltman as Scottish Cycling almost topped the Commonwealth Games medal table.

The Melton man took over as Scottish Cycling’s first head of performance in 2013, a year before the country hosted the Commonwealths.

Gary Coltman (right) with Scotland's mountain bike riders and coach at the Commonwealth Games EMN-181204-131839002

Gary Coltman (right) with Scotland's mountain bike riders and coach at the Commonwealth Games EMN-181204-131839002

But the 2018 Games were always going to be the first major yardstick of Coltman’s progress.

And having won five medals in Glasgow just 15 months after his appointment, Scotland doubled their tally in Brisbane, finishing only behind Australia in track cycling’s medal table and a place above England.

“We had 14 medal chances and I told the board of Scottish Cycling we could realistically convert half of those,” Coltman told the Melton Times.

“My own personal target was 10, but I only shared that after we had achieved it.

“It wasn’t a dream target, but if someone had asked me when will we win 10 medals, I would have said in four years’ time.

He added: “I think a few people are now taking us a bit more seriously on what we can deliver on the international stage.

“I hope they can see that what these guys can do is good enough at the very top level.”

Coltman spent almost a decade working for British Cycling as performance manager of the Olympic Talent Programme before swapping that role for a new challenge north of the border.

And there is more than a nod to his former employers in the attention to detail and tight organisation he has brought to Scottish Cycling,

A key change was to begin utilising the Scottish Institute for Sport.

“The coaches were doing good work before, but there was no real structure or pathway,” he explained.

“With a small number of changes and the support staff we have created a system to allow riders to develop, and we have been able to bring more riders through.”

Marginal gains came to play a big part in preparations as the Gold Coast Games appeared on the horizon, with Coltman knowing the full value of little things to the bigger picture.

He said: “In Glasgow, the distance between the athletes village and the velodrome was too far so I came over here beforehand and found good self-catering accommodation closer to the venue.

“We brought our own chef and nutritionist over, and we organised a training camp in Sydney the week before.

“It’s about developing the athletes, but also giving them the best opportunity to perform.

“It was very similar to what the British guys get in terms of preparation for Olympics and world championships, but with less resources and money.”

But Coltman also cultivated a different climate in the Scottish camp compared to British Cycling’s more intense approach.

“We kept it quite relaxed and made sure everyone was enjoying the experience to build team spirit,” he added.

“It’s not very often they get to compete for Scotland and there’s definitely a strong passion for that.

“That was what attracted me to the job in the first place; I always felt the passion was there, but perhaps without the organisation behind it.”

The former champion rider is used to sacrificing time with home and family in Melton, but he is looking forward to a few days holiday next month with wife Theresa, also a former national cycling champion.

“I was down at home for a few days before we flew out to Sydney, but it’s been absolutely full-on since then,” he explained.

“There’s not been a minute to spare and no days off. That can be quite gruelling, but my job was to make sure everyone stayed sane and had some down time.

“It seems like we have been away for ages so I have to make sure the riders do nothing when they get back. But I also have to remind myself to do the same.”

However, his mind is still likely to wander back to the job as planning begins towards the next Commonwealths in Birmingham in 2022.

“My role is very much about developing youngsters on a four-year cycle so when we get back I’m looking forward to thinking about going again, talent ID and areas we can improve.

“This time next year the next four-year funding cycle begins so I’ll have to start working on a plan for that.”