We recently caught up with the man originally from way up there in Lybster, Caithness in the far north east of Scotland.
PEZ: Congratulations, great ride – but Niederlag 9.899 in qualifying, a big mental hurdle for you from the off?
John Paul: Absolutely – when I saw it at first I was apprehensive; but I’d beaten him in the European Champs in Portugal so I knew we were at a similar level.
His 100 metre time was the same as mine, but he didn’t die in the second 100 – when it came to acceleration I knew I could beat him.
In the semi it was one each, but in the third race it was a drag race to the line, shoulder to shoulder – he flicked me and was disqualified; it’s maybe not the way I would have wanted to win but the rules are the rules.
PEZ: Is the Moscow track as fast as we’ve heard?
JP: It’s something else!
At 333 metres it’s huge compared to the 250 metre tracks were used to – and it’s very high, 9.5 metres.
The transitions are very fast – it’s a much faster track than Manchester.
PEZ: At the Europeans you won the keirin, too.
JP: I had a chance to rest a little between the sprint and keirin in Portugal but in Moscow the keirin was the day after the sprint – I was late after the sprint, with the podium ceremony and the doping control, and maybe a little tired.
In the keirin there are more variables, more guys on the track – a US guy flicked me in the semis and that was that; whilst the Mexican rider (Verdugo) who won bronze in the keirin didn’t even qualify for the sprint.
PEZ: Keirin/sprint/team sprint, which do you prefer?
JP: I like the keirin but I prefer the sprint because it’s one on one – pure tactics, it’s down to you; in the keirin if someone swings up on you . . .
PEZ: You qualified with 10.175 and your GB team mate Matthew Rotherham rode 10.228, isn’t that a good base for a team sprint squad?
JP: Our man three quit the sport; and the guy who is replacing him isn’t quite fast enough, yet.
I’d love to ride it, but you need three guys at the level.
PEZ: You must be knocking on the door for the senior team sprint?
JP: I’m not really sure, I’ll be man one in my club team, the City of Edinburgh at the British Track Championships.
Hopefully I’ll be with the British cycling Academy by then – I’ve finished with the Olympic development Programme and am waiting to see if I’m accepted for the Academy.
The thing is that the team sprint programme is really competitive; I think there are 10 or 11 guys after three places.
PEZ: Were you living up in Lybster when you got into the bike?
JP: No, I was into athletics, football, rugby – it wasn’t until we moved down to Oxfordshire that I got into cycling.
The football and athletics were a lot more competitive in England than they were in the north of Scotland – and then I saw the Olympics on the track and started to ride at Reading track.
PEZ: Why track, didn’t you want to be like Tom Boonen or Cav?
JP: I was really inspired by seeing the track racing with Chris Hoy at the Olympics.
And then when I rode the track, with the bankings, the G force, the sense of speed, I was just hooked – I loved it, such a rush.
PEZ: Tell us about your training.
JP: In the winter for two or three months I build a good, solid base, including road work – you have to so as you can deal with the volume of racing at championships.
I do gym work all year and big gear stuff on the turbo; and of course I ride the track.
Reading is my home track but I ride at Newport a lot, that’s about an hour-and-a-quarter’s drive – Manchester is double that.
PEZ: What’s your best 200 metre time?
JP: That 10.1 in Moscow; I did 10.5 in Portugal but I did a 10.5 at Manchester when I came back and that was better ride given the conditions.
PEZ: Who’s your role model?
JP: Chris Hoy, he’s my main inspiration, watching him in action at the Olympics was what motivated me to get into track racing.
Craig McLean has been a big help to me, he gives me a lot of advice; Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar too – they all give me tips and advice.
PEZ: Are you an equipment man – or do you just ride what’s given to you?
JP: I’m always looking at bikes and thinking about what I see on them.
At our level we don’t get the GB ‘Superbikes,’ we ride Dolans – Niederlag was on one of the German FES team bikes, so it’s a psychological edge for me that I can beat him on a normal track bike.
At the Euros we were pretty ‘hands-on’ with the bikes, we had a big squad so had to change our own gears between events.
PEZ: You’re supported by the Braveheart Fund which helps Scottish riders, financially.
JP: Yes, it’s been a big help, I have a lot of travel expenses and it’s difficult to find funding so any help is great.
PEZ: The Worlds were your goal for 2011 – so you can tick that one off.
JP: Absolutely! Next year I’m looking to build on 2011, firstly I hope to be accepted for the GB Cycling Academy, then put in a solid winter, try to improve and target the U23 European Championships for 2012.
With thanks to Brian Smith of Braveheart for arranging this interview.