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Great Britain sprinter Joe Truman knows he has a point to prove as he targets an Olympic debut in Paris next summer.
The 26-year-old saw his Tokyo dream dashed by a back injury which hampered him for the best part of two years, and his return to action did not go smoothly either – he was knocked out cold in a high-speed crash in the keirin at the Commonwealth Games last summer.
But those frustrations are now fuelling Truman as he looks to fulfil his long-standing ambition to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.
“I feel like I’ve missed a lot of opportunities,” Truman told the PA news agency.
“Even at the Commonwealth Games last year, I was looking forward to racing in the sprint and the kilo (time trial) which I never got to do.
“I think I’ve got a point to prove but I’m just going out to make myself better. If for the next eight months I can go into every week smashing it, doing whatever I can, leaving no stone unturned, then I’ve nowhere to hide really.
“My main motivation is to put right the opportunities I’ve missed for various reasons. It is very good fuel really. You don’t want to end your career with any ‘what ifs’ so I’m really putting my best into every session.”
Truman’s ambitions have led him to the UCI Track Champions League, the made-for-TV series which is midway through its third season, as he looks to build up his race experience.
This is the first year the Champions League has taken place in a pre-Olympic year and although organisers moved it forward by a month, a number of star riders nevertheless chose to sit out this season to not disrupt their training. Truman took the opposite view.
“(Getting to Paris) would be massive,” he said. “It would be making good on eight years’ work. That’s what I want most out of the next year, and that’s the reason I’m here.
“Some others didn’t want to do it because they didn’t think it would be good preparation but I saw it as the opposite. It’s a good opportunity to get some race practices in. For me, in the keirin, the Commonwealth Games I’ve only ridden the keirin once.
“I really need to get some more experience because I want to go to the Games competitive in all events, not just the team sprint, so something like this has a lot of positives in it.”
After years of setbacks, Truman feels like he is approaching his best form again at just the right time.
He surprised himself with a time of 59.092 in the one kilometre time trial at the World Championships in Glasgow in August, narrowly missing out on a medal.
I think I’ve got a point to prove but I’m just going out to make myself better. If for the next eight months I can go into every week smashing it, doing whatever I can, leaving no stone unturned, then I’ve nowhere to hide really
At the opening round of the Champions League in Mallorca last month, he made it to the semi-finals of the sprint and came out of the night in fourth place overall in the men’s sprint standings.
Although there was disappointment a week later in Berlin, Truman will approach Paris this weekend with optimism before his primary target – the closing two rounds in London on November 10-11.
And Truman said the competition, which is an invitation-only event based on results, was a good environment to try new things.
“It’s a big occasion, televised worldwide and good crowds, especially in London where I want to show my nose, but it’s a strange mix – you’re not expecting much from yourself physically but mentally you want to go well,” he said.
“The best training is when you’ve got a number on your back. That’s when you get the best out of yourself.”
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