Monthly Archives: December 2019

Watch: A decade of Scottish sporting success

The last 10 years has brought a raft of Scottish sporting success. Here are some of the highlights for you to enjoy…

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South African cyclist Dlamini breaks arm in altercation with Table Mountain park rangers

Nicholas Dlamini

Nicholas Dlamini competed at the Vuelta a Espana in 2019

South African road cyclist Nicholas Dlamini has broken his arm after he was stopped by rangers in Table Mountain National Park while on a training ride.

Video of the altercation in Cape Town has been shared on social media.

South African National Parks says Dlamini, 24, was suspected of entering the park without paying an entrance fee and a “scuffle ensured” when he failed to show the requested documentation.

NTT Pro Cycling boss Douglas Ryder said the treatment was “not acceptable”.

“I was both devastated and appalled to see the video of Nicholas on social media,” added Ryder. “To watch a young man who I know so well in such unnecessary distress made me feel sick, to be honest.”

His team said the injury will “have a serious effect” on his hopes of competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They also called for a “full public apology” and “immediate disciplinary procedures” against those involved.

In a statement, the team said: “NTT Pro Cycling can confirm that rider Nicolas Dlamini sustained a broken arm after being stopped by SANParks officials in the Silvermine section of Table Mountain National Park on Friday.

“NTT Pro Cycling also notes the release of a statement of the incident by SANParks. The video taken by the eyewitness clearly outlines the course of events which saw Nicholas sustain this injury.

“This is a major setback for the Capetonian who had been out on a training ride ahead of a hugely promising 2020 season.

“NTT Pro Cycling would like to be clear that we fully condemn violence in any form and are all highly distressed to see our team-mate treated in this manner.”

SANParks’ acting head of communications Rey Thakhuli told BBC Sport: “The rangers were alerted by the gate officials after somebody was seen entering the park without paying the mandatory fee.

“Upon investigation they stopped this man and requested him to produce all the necessary documentation and tickets, which he failed to do and a scuffle ensued.

“We are embarking on a preliminary investigation to determine the facts and all officials are being interviewed and eyewitness are asked to come forward. Video that has gone viral will form part of the investigation. Anyone found to be on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with.”

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Watch: Mud causes chaos at Cyclo-cross World Cup in Belgium

Watch as chaos ensues in the sixth round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, after heavy rain in Namur, Belgium, causes the track to become a mudbath.

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Dr Richard Freeman tribunal to resume in April and will conclude in October 2020

Dr Richard Freeman and defence team

Mary O’Rourke (left) is defending Dr Richard Freeman (second left) at the medical tribunal in Manchester

Dr Richard Freeman’s tribunal will resume on 28 April but will not be completed until October 2020.

The hearing, which is assessing the former British Cycling and Team Sky medic’s fitness to practise, was adjourned on Monday on medical grounds.

His lawyer said last week that Freeman, who has bipolar disorder, was unwell.

Freeman has been accused of ordering testosterone to British Cycling’s headquarters in 2011 to boost an athlete’s performance, which he denies.

The tribunal, which had already been postponed from February, began on 28 October with 40 days allotted.

But four additional weeks from 28 April have now been scheduled to complete the first stage of the tribunal during which Freeman contested four charges, which relate to ordering the banned substance knowing or believing it was intended to enhance an athlete’s performance.

The second and third stages of the tribunal, where his fitness to practise and any potential sanction will be heard, are set to take place from 5 October to 16 October.

Freeman has admitted 18 of 22 charges against him, which include ordering 30 sachets of Testogel to the National Cycling Centre in 2011, lying to try to cover up the order and lying to a UK Anti-Doping investigation.

The medic, who has yet to be cross-examined by the General Medical Council, says he was bullied into ordering the testosterone by former British Cycling and Team Sky performance director Shane Sutton.

But Sutton, who stormed out of the tribunal last month, denied those claims – and rejected allegations that he was “a doper, a liar and a bully”, put forward during the hearing by Mary O’Rourke QC, Freeman’s lawyer.

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‘I felt like a failure after quitting cycling’

Daniel Stewart

After quitting professional cycling at the age of 21, Stewart now works for an advertising firm in London

“It was a commitment that I made to myself and I was the ultimate failure – or that’s what it felt like.”

You see the success of professional sport every day. You read about it, you watch it and some of you may even be part of it. But what if it doesn’t work out?

That’s what happened to Daniel Stewart, who stepped away from professional cycling at the age of 21 after taking a leap of faith to pursue his dream.

After learning to ride at a young age, he followed his dad into a cycling club before deciding to give racing a go.

A bronze medal in his first race was a sign of things to come, and after completing his A-Levels the Belfast rider took the step of moving to Belgium to chase a professional career on the roads.

Despite representing Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Youth Games and earning a professional contract in France, Stewart decided to step away from the sport at the age of 21 over concerns about his mental health.


Stewart has written several blogs on the impact on professional sport on mental health

Three years on from hanging up his helmet professionally, he admits that quitting the sport left him in a dark place, but he is a stronger person after coming through the other side.

“I always thought of being a full-time athlete, just not necessarily a cyclist,” reflected Stewart.

“When I was growing up, I cycled because I liked that independence and eventually I wanted to give racing a go. Then I caught the bug.”

After finishing school, Stewart moved to Belgium in his bid to become a professional cyclist and says the move to live abroad “wasn’t that big”.

“There was always such a massive push to make you go to university, but by the time of my A-levels I was disconnected with school life,” he added.

“When you do something like that, you can’t think of the fear of failure. If you fail, you fail. But if you don’t try then you will never know.

“I’m never going to have that thought in my head because I gave it a go. I still hold that philosophy in anything I do.”

Professional sport ‘takes your life’

Stewart managed to work his way up to the third tier of professional cycling in France, which, to put it in footballing terms, is the League One of the sport.

“I was in the bottom tier in terms of salary, but it was very similar in terms of the lifestyle and the races you are doing,” he added.

“It takes your life and that’s the part that wears you down I suppose.

“Doing anything obsessively just isn’t good for me. I need to have a lot of things on the go. Even now, I sometimes think about riding full-time, but I know that it would just end up the same way.


Stewart represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2011

“That obsession made me insecure. All of a sudden, you are fixated on all the faults. You go to all the races and think about everything that you did wrong, instead of celebrating a lot of things that you have done right.

“If you are very self-centred and you only think about yourself, then being a professional athlete is almost easier.

“Whereas, if you do care what other people think, then that is going to weigh you down a lot. Those are the things that you have to eradicate, and that is something that I struggled to do.

“I still love cycling and I hold so much respect for those who do it professionally. I don’t hold any jealousy for those who are able to do it.”

‘You’re selling your soul’

Now three years on from giving up cycling, Stewart said cycling will always play a big part in his life.

“I never fell out of love with cycling but I definitely fell out of love with professional sport,” added the 25-year-old.

“You’re selling your soul to someone. You ride for their team so you do exactly what they want.

“I think prior to being a full-time athlete, or for people who’ve never been one, it’s reasonable to think that talent and hard work will get you to the top.


Stewart says that the lack of a guaranteed income was a factor in his decision to walk away from the sport

“I learnt the hard way that support is as important for success. If you are a phenomenon, support takes care of yourself – I was not.

“My family did everything they could to help me, but there is only so much they can do when, in my eyes, it seemed the only pathway for success was to live in a rural village in Brittany on my own, from February to September.

“That’s hard – and looking at the Irish Cycling scene from the outside, I don’t think this has changed much since I left.”

‘You lose your identity’

Reflecting on his decision to quit the sport, Stewart described it as the hardest call he has ever had to make, and admitted he still gets emotional when thinking about it.

“I was definitely in a really bad place after it, even one or two years after it,” he explained.

“You just don’t know who you are. You almost lose your identity. It’s not just that I was quitting professional cycling, I was ‘Daniel the Cyclist’.

“It takes a lot to rebuild that again. I’m all the better for it now but it wasn’t easy.


Stewart was riding for Brittany-based team Hennebont Cyclisme when he was living in France

“It wasn’t nice to say that the thing that you love, in my case it was cycling, knowing that you can’t do it for a living.

“You just cocoon yourself like you would with any stage of depression. It was almost like a grieving process.

“You just have to find your own way, regardless of how long that takes, and just accept that you don’t know who you are sometimes.

“You learn a lot about yourself and you get a lot of maturity from that. It wasn’t a wasteful experience, that’s for sure.”

Looking for ‘a fresh start’

Does that make Stewart a failure just because he had to step away from his dream? Not in the slightest.

He now has a full-time job in London and lives with his girlfriend in Kent. On top of that, the English countryside means he can still enjoy his passion without the pressures that are attached to professional sport.

“It was all part of my journey,” he reflects. “Looking at it retrospectively, it was a lot to do about how I didn’t have much control over anything that I was doing.

“When I started cycling, it was about escaping everyday life but once I got that professional contract there are a lot of things you can’t determine.

“You have to use a certain kit, you have to use this bike, you have to be at a certain race.”


Stewart still spends time on his bicycle in his spare time

Despite moving away from the pressures of the sport, Stewart says he is still in love with riding his bike.

“I may still ride my bike for four hours a day in the countryside, but I still have 20 more hours to enjoy and do other things,” he added.

“I’m glad that I did it. I learnt so much about different cultures and I leant so much about myself.

“Looking back, I don’t really know what I can change because I am the same person. I don’t have any regrets about it.”

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Johnny’s favourite stores