Aged just 28, Rab Wardell finds himself one of the elder statesmen of an up and coming Scottish Mountain Bike Cross-Country team that boasts two of Britain’s top riders in Kenta Gallagher (21) and Grant Ferguson (20).
Acknowledging the benefits of competition Rab said: “It’s great they are breaking through, they are raising the level all the time and to have that depth can only be a good thing. It pushes you, and they have another 15 years left so they are nowhere near their peak yet. They are really helping me improve.”
Rab was 14 when his older brother bought a mountain bike and he quickly joined him riding down trails and footpaths on family holidays. However, it quickly turned fromjust a hobby into a career.
His determination and focus drove him to the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, which unfortunately ended in frustration when Â a mechanical failure with his bike literally stopped him in his tracks. However Rab went on to be be a support rider for the team in the road race and described the experience: “It was amazing! It was not a successful Games in terms of competition, but racing in front of those big crowds and being part of something on that scale was an incredible opportunity.”
Scotland’s international reputation is also something to be proud of according to Rab: “When people met you and they found out you were Scottish, everyone was so psyched. The team is really highly thought of and it was an honour to represent my country.”
With no Mountain Biking at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, Rab briefly retired, but he is now back in the saddle and in the Scottish squad. However with its new crop of talented young guns, Rab will need to put his foot down if he is to qualify for Glasgow 2014.
“I aim to qualify for the Mountain Biking again, but there are four to six guys competing for three places. But I cannot worry about that, I just have to ride as well as I can and hopefully the qualification will take care of itself.”
“If I’m honest, I haven’t really thought much passed the qualification period. Qualifying for the team is a real challenge and I don’t want to count my chickens just yet. But I am raising my game and progressing. Of course it could always be better, but I would say I am on track so far.”
Rab, who originally hails from Dunfermline but now lives in Glasgow, recently took a morning off from his job with the private Mountain Bike coaching firm, Dirt School, to show off the new Glasgow 2014 Mountain Bike course at Cathkin Braes to the Scottish media. His next time out on the course will be for real, when he takes part in the 2013 British Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships (21 July) and hopefully gets one step closer to taking part in a home Commonwealth Games.
You can follow Rab on Twitter @RabWardell
Photo Credit: CGS