HUMBLE Matt Walls can’t wait to descend on Tokyo 2020 and revealed the secret ingredient behind his searing cycling rise – Oldham.
Walls, 23, will be joined by three-time Olympic champion Ed Clancy, Ethan Hayter, Ethan Vernon, and Ollie Wood in the men’s endurance squad in Tokyo.
And he heads there in red-hot form after claiming omnium bronze at the 2020 Track Cycling World Championship omnium with a thrilling performance in the points race.
Walls’ selection caps a gruelling cycling journey and he says he’ll never forget his local roots when he descends on the Japanese velodrome.
He said: “I wouldn’t have started cycling if the community wasn’t there.
“I had the support of my secondary school when I started racing competitively – they let me skive off school a few times.
“Oldham was massive for me – I started cycling seriously because I was able to do a triathlon at primary school which I imagine is pretty rare.
“Teachers went out of their way to help me pass my studies and catch up later on because I’d be so far behind after a week away racing.
“I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without all that support from the community.”
Walls started cycling after performing particularly well in the cycling leg of a school triathlon, inspiring him to join a local cycling team.
He got onto the Team GB training programme at the age of 15 and has been racing competitively ever since.
Walls admits securing Team GB selection is beyond his wildest cycling dreams, adding: “It’s been a dream come true.
“Obviously I’ve been on the Team GB programme for a while. but to get selected is mad.
“It was very step by step – I was on the Under-23 programme, and it was probably a year into that where I started to think there was a small chance that I could go to Tokyo.
“I ended up getting on the podium squad and that’s when I realised there was a big chance I could go.”
Walls is currently at a holding camp in Newport where he is training ahead of the Games’ Opening Ceremony on 23 July.
“I was away with my road team and focusing on that, but then you come here and it’s all about the Olympics, so it’s been a good few days so far.
“We’re not fighting to be selected anymore, it’s out the way so I’m just purely focused on myself and making sure I’m the best I can be.”
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