Archie Atkinson goes into every race with the expectation of winning but he admits there is a little extra pressure on his shoulders going into 2024.
The para-cyclist has enjoyed a stellar 12 months, winning World Championship gold in the C4 scratch race on the track before taking bronze in the road race in Glasgow.
That puts him in a strong position to represent Great Britain at the Paralympics in Paris next summer, with Atkinson’s family already confident he will make it.
“My parents, grandparents and uncles have all bought tickets for Paris,” said Atkinson, who received his SportsAid support from Marsh this year.
“So now, there is pressure, I have to go.
“I have to get a medal at track worlds and the road World Cup and then I should go to the Games hopefully, all being well.
“I’d be doing road, time trial, kilo and pursuit, basically everything apart from team sprint.
“This year has been madness. It’s been a little bit unbelievable, I came into it not expecting everything that happened. It all happened very quickly.
“I’ve always been fairly confident, going into everything, I wanted to win it. I’ve got similar expectations for next year, I want to do everything I can and we’ll see what happens.”
Atkinson’s achievements have not gone unnoticed, with the 19-year-old from Heaton Moor named the runner-up in SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award 2023.
The annual Award, launched in 2006, recognises Britain’s brightest young sporting prospects and has previously been won by Olympic champions Tom Daley and Alex Yee and Paralympic gold medallist Hollie Arnold.
The top 10 athletes have been selected from around 1,000 rising stars, supported by SportsAid, across more than 60 different sports in 2023.And Atkinson explained how honoured he felt to be recognised for his efforts.
“This is pretty special,” said Atkinson. “It’s not something I was expecting to happen so it’s a nice award to be given. It’s really nice to be recognised for achievements this year.
“There’s obviously the medals and the jerseys but it’s quite nice to see that outside the squad, people are recognising my performances.
“With the Worlds, I went into it with the same mindset as World Cups. It’s just another race, but there’s a nice stripey jersey at the end. At the Games, there’s a very nice medal at the end of the competition.”
To ensure that he will be ready, the self-confessed glutton for punishment will be heading into the unknown in the New Year.
Already a strong time triallist, both on the track and the road, Atkinson has up to now relied on watching the world’s best for tips on his body position. But that will change when he gets some time in the wind tunnel and is able to work on finding the best possible set-up to shave off some crucial fractions of seconds in his bid for more success.
He explained: “In January, I’ve got wind tunnel testing, which I’m very much looking forward to. I’ve never done wind tunnel testing before so my position is just based on looking at what other people do and seeing if I can hold it. I try to find one that works and look in the mirror to see if it looks fairly aero. This will give me a chance to use the science behind it and will be really nice.”
SportsAid’s annual One-to-Watch Award is backed by Royal Bank of Canada – a long-standing supporter of the charity celebrating 10 years of partnership in 2023. Each of the top 10 shortlisted athletes have received cash boosts and special in-person visits at their training environments to celebrate their achievements