If you’ve not heard the name Matthew Walls before there’s a good chance you will have done come Sunday evening.
At just 19, he’s starting to make his mark on the elite track cycling scene, a status he confirmed at this weekend’s TISSOT UCI Track World Cup in Manchester.
Competing for British Cycling’s 100% ME team, Walls (above, second from right) finished seventh in the scratch race final – World Championship bronze medallist and fellow Brit Chris Latham two places behind.
It was a result made all the more impressive given this was the Cheadle man’s first individual race at World Cup level – but there’s little doubting there are many more to come.
“It was a good race, I felt pretty good and it was a good result for my first individual race at such a high level,” he said.
“It’s fantastic to be competing at this level. I remember when I was younger, looking up to the older riders and now I’m racing against them, so it’s a great feeling.
“I felt pretty confident coming into the race. I’ve had a lot of good training. I’ve been really looking forward to it and I’ve got a good result.
“I definitely think I can develop from this result. It’s given me a lot of confidence.
“Hopefully I can just keep on improving and get a better result next time!”
The scratch race was not Walls’ only race on Friday, the youngster finishing tenth in the team pursuit alongside Matt Bostock, Joe Holt and Ethan Hayter – the quartet missing out on a place in the first round by just 0.659s.
Walls can remember clearly sitting in the stands at the National Cycling Centre as a young boy, dreaming of the day he would follow in the tracks of his heroes and take the boards himself.
Now he’s riding alongside those heroes, and Friday’s race certainly won’t be one he’s forgetting in a hurry.
“It’s fantastic to be competing in Manchester. This is my home city and there are a lot of great fans,” he said.
“My family and friends were watching, so it’s nice to be racing in front of such a top crowd.
“It’s just a blur of noise as you go round, so many people are shouting at you that it’s hard to think, but it is great.”
Can’t get enough of the track? Hot on the heels of the TISSOT UCI Track World Cup, tickets for the 2018 HSBC UK | National Track Championships in Manchester are now on sale. Buy now: ticketmaster.co.uk/britishcycling
Image courtesy of SWpix.com, with thanks.