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16 October 2014

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Graeme Obree: Homegrown Hero

Graeme Obree in his controversial racing position

Graeme Obree in his controversial racing position

Ironically, there have been ongoing attempts to make a film about Obree's exploits, which would allow Obree to follow that other unconventional Scottish champion Eric Liddell onto celluloid.

Obree's early career was marked by his rivalry with Englishman Chris Boardman in the mid-1990s. But for Obree to reach that position to challenge the Olympic gold medal winner was a victory of determination over adversity.

It was Boardman's gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics of 1992 that not only raised Boardman's profile but also made Obree realise that he too was a serious contender on the world cycling stage as he had enjoyed close tussles with the English rider in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"After Chris won the Olympic gold it made me realise we were both cycling at a very high level because we rode against each other many times and sometimes I would beat him."

And while Obree was working out of his garage piecing together parts of bikes to make his customised model, while pursuing dead-end jobs and could not afford a telephone, a team of sports scientists, psychologists and bike builders backed Boardman. But Obree expresses no resentment that the odds of him beating Boardman were stacked against him.

"The thing about Chris was that he was organised. His approach was totally structured which allowed him to build that team about him. He built on his successes and then put himself forward as an ideal employee so that he could compete in the Tour de France.

"On the other hand I just thought about getting the hour record. Once I got that I didn't know what I was going to do. I had no career path at all.

"Chris Boardman was the author of his own destiny, so there has never been any resentment on my part."

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