Mo Farah, Matthew Pinsent, Laura Kenny - all household names, all with four Olympic medals. Ed Clancy has no problem that he has quietly become one of Britain’s most successful Olympians with the same tally.
The 36-year-old track cyclist will be chasing a fifth medal at Tokyo 2020, when he is likely to lead the team pursuit. It might be that the endurance team has been so successful, he has simply been overshadowed by big personalities.
Previous team pursuit team-mates have included Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, while Mark Cavendish pipped him to the omnium spot at Rio 2016 and came away with a silver medal.
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But it does not seem to bother Clancy, who is happy to get on his job and fly under the radar.
“I’ve been part of a successful team and part of a successful generation of Olympians” Clancy told Eurosport, himself an extremely enjoyable person to spend a bit of time talking to.
“The reality is that out of every Games, there’s going to be three, maybe four individuals maximum that the public on mass are going to identify with.
“That might be Chris Hoy at one Olympics, it might be Bradley Wiggins at another.
I don’t feel hard done-by whatsoever, in fact it’s been a great run and I honestly don’t mind being a little bit low-key.
“In British Cycling, and the road teams I’ve been a part of, those Olympic medals have served me well.
“When you’re a bit younger you probably think you want that attention, but as I’ve got a bit older - I just like riding my bike.
“I have been out with Chris and Bradley and it’s not easy being those guys, no-one’s going to feel sorry for them of course but it would be a shame if you’re recognised everywhere and anywhere.”
Clancy says Tokyo will be his last Games, unable to contemplate being able to compete at Paris 2024. He almost did not get this far though, and admits when the Olympics and Paralympics were postponed, he almost retired there and then.
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“I think I’ll continue racing in some form, but in terms of my Olympic programme and how involved I am with British Cycling, unless I’m going to come back in Paris as a 39 year old, I think there’s realistically more I can do off the bike than on it,” he said.
“I did have a plan and I want to do other exciting things, like with my (Clancy Briggs) academy, I planned everything out - it’s just been delayed by 12 months.
“I wish I could say shifting those was an easy thing to do, but - and it’s not just the case for athletes - we all had a bit of a shock to the system this time last year and I think initially it was tough.
I had long conversations with the coaches and I contemplated calling it a day there and then. I wouldn’t say I was in a particularly bad place, I just didn’t know what was going on for the first time in a long, long time.
“I found not knowing what was going on pretty difficult and the way I dealt with that was taking a little break - I just got away from it all.
“I had 4-5 weeks on my mountain bike, I stayed close to home and contemplated life and sport. It didn’t take too long to realise I did want to see out the Olympic cycle.”
For casual British track cycling fans who have watched the Olympics over the past three to four Games, many may expect Team GB to continue to dominate in Tokyo. But other nations, particularly the Netherlands and Germany, have caught up.
Britain missed out on a team pursuit medal at the last Track Cycling World Championships just before the pandemic really took hold last year, and Clancy admits the extra year of preparation may have helped catch up with their rivals.
“It’s difficult to get to the top but staying at the top is really hard,” he said.
“We were ahead of the game but it hasn’t taken too long for other teams to look at what we’re doing in training, how we approach things.
“It’s going to be tighter - it’s going to be our most difficult challenge in any of the cycles I’ve been in. If we are successful, it’s going to be even sweeter.”
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