Interview with Helen Scott – Olympic Sprint Cyclist
Helen Scott, MBE is an English sprint cyclist. As well as competing as part of team GB, Scott is also an able-bodied tandem cyclist, who since 2011 has acted as pilot for Paralympians Aileen McGlynn and Sophie Thornhill.
We recently caught up with Paralympic gold medallist Helen Scott ahead of her Asgard shed installation and asked her a few questions.
How important is it for you to keep your bikes and equipment in a dry, safe, and secure place?
For me it’s my main priority when choosing somewhere to live: Is there a safe place to put my bikes? Our bikes are our livelihood and if they get stolen/damp and rusty, it massively affects our ability to train, which then has a knock-one affect to our racing performances.
When did you and Sophie Thornhill first pair up? How did you become a team?
Sophie and I first raced together back in 2011 (At the National Track Championships I think); I was fairly new to piloting at that point, and Sophie was a young talent that the GB Paracycling Team were interested in. I immediately knew that Sophie had something special because put down some great times. At the time I was on route to pilot Aileen McGlynn in my first Paralympic Games in London, so it wasn’t until 2013 that Sophie and I started to train regularly together. It’s amazing the progression that happens when you’re able to consistently work with someone, so that’s when it really took off for us.
Will you and Thornhill be a team during the next Commonwealth Games?
Yes, I hope so. We enjoyed huge success in Glasgow 2014, and to defend our two titles is going to be tough, but it’s a huge goal for us: I personally haven’t defended any international titles up to this point, so it’s big. We’re also Team England Ambassadors leading up to 2018, which is a huge honour. We’re excited to join other English athletes in celebrating the Commonwealth Games and to start getting England excited for it!
How competitive are you against other team GB members such as Aileen McGlynn?
Aileen and her pilot Louise Haston are some of the toughest rivals Sophie and I have ever competed against. The sprint in Glasgow was so tough and I think it made for some really exciting racing! I really believe it’s going to be another close battle, and I’m looking forward to seeing them out there with us. They recently came away with us to compete at the Paracycling Track World Championships in LA, winning silver and bronze medals- so they’re obviously still going strong.
Speaking of Aileen McGlynn, will the two of you be teaming up again in the future?
I’m not sure how likely that is. Louise is a fantastic pilot and they’ve got a really good tandem relationship, just like Sophie and I have.
Finally, what’s your training schedule like? Does it change in intensity depending on the time year?
My training week is generally 6 days a week, but it does vary depending on what phase I’m in. If I’ve had a big break (like after the Rio Paralympics for example), training is a little more relaxed, with some fitness work and gym work. When we’re focusing on a specific competition the training intensity and volume increases, and we’ll be back on track doing specific drills related to our events. Included in that too are lab sessions, roller sessions, you name it! It’s a lot of fun when we’ve got a full plan- I love working so hard I can barely move after a session! There’s nothing better than knowing you’re making gains!