Cross-Country Mountain biker Kenta Gallagher has nailed his colours to the mast admitting the lure of competing for Team Scotland was too good to turn down.
Born in Sheffield to an English father and Japanese mother, Gallagher had a choice to make over which country to represent.
But having lived in Inverness since he was just two weeks old and still calling it his home 20 years on, Gallagher was in no doubt about what his decision would be.
“The only reason I’m good at riding my bike is because I rode in Scotland”, said Gallagher. “It’s exciting to think about competing for Scotland. I received lots of support from Scottish Cycling and it will be nice to give something back to them.”
“I have never had the chance before to compete wearing a Scottish vest and the Commonwealth Games is the only opportunity for me to do that. It would be special to get to pull on the Team Scotland colours and hopefully do all the Scottish fans proud. I would feel honoured.”
“Hopefully a few folk will come down from Inverness to cheer me on, well that’s the plan anyway, but I have to get selected first. It is the biggest goal I have in the next couple of years.”
Gallagher is based in Manchester, training on the British Cycling programme with fellow Scot Grant Ferguson and Englishman Liam Killeen, who won the gold medal in 2006, the last time mountain biking was part of the Commonwealth Games.
Inspired by his late father to take up cycling, Gallagher has won the British U23 Championships two years running, but has set his sights higher than a hat-trick when the Championships come to Cathkin Braes on 20 July.
He added: “It would be good to win it three times, but in the back of my mind, I’d like to make the step up and make my mark at the elite level. Depending on how I’m feeling I might race the elites and if I can win that then I’ll be doing well.”
“Hopefully my dad will be spurring me on. Every time I’m on my bike I do think about it. I went through a few bad patches not wanting to ride any more, but I knew he wanted me to do it and with him I had fun doing it. I guess if I made the Commonwealth Games start line he would be very proud of me.”
Mountain biking attracts a notoriously noisy support and Gallagher believes the Glasgow crowds could make the difference on the day.
He said: “Scottish people are pretty crazy, they are so proud to be Scottish and love to get behind their nation. I reckon they would definitely blow the lid off the Commonwealth Games, that’s for sure.”
“You can give 100% in a race, but if you have your family and friends there watching and the people are out to support Team Scotland then it does give you that extra 10% and that could be the matter of winning or coming second.”
“Many of my friends haven’t had the chance to see me compete before and they just think riding a bike is a bit of fun. It would be good to show everyone that the hard work I have put in has paid off and give back to everyone who has helped me by being at least on the start line for Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014.”
You can follow Kenta on Twitter @KentaGallagher
Photo Credit: Alistair Devine