Hugo's Olympic dream

YOUNG cyclist Hugo Robinson could end up representing Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics in what is only his second strongest discipline.

Stuart Watson

YOUNG cyclist Hugo Robinson could end up representing Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics in what is only his second strongest discipline.

The 13-year-old's forte has always been cyclo-cross but, with the winter event not part of the Olympic programme, he has stepped up his training in mountain biking in recent months.

In what is only his first full season of mountain bike competition the Debenham High School has excelled - winning the Juvenile Men Mountain Bike XC National Championship and the Southern Region XC Championship in recent weeks.

As a result the Ipswich Bicycle Club member is second in mountain bike's National Series after three of the five rounds and has already achieved a national ranking of four for his age group.

“I still see myself as a cyclo-cross rider,” said Robinson. “That is the discipline I want to try and be world class in.

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“I only really entered the mountain bike season for a bit of summer fitness ahead of the winter cyclo-cross season really, but with it being part of the Olympics it might be worthwhile continuing.”

Robinson, who lives in the small village of Ashfield-cum-Thorpe near Debenham, first started racing at the age of nine after his father Kieron asked if would like to try a local round of the East League for a bit of fun.

The youngster's natural handling talent quickly shone and, after winning that first race, he joined Ipswich Bicycle Club.

There he met Ipswich's top cyclo-cross rider Nathan Miller who, seeing Robinson's potential, took him under his wing.

“I couldn't have done it without Nathan,” said Robinson. “I also need to thank my dad Kieron for all of his support and Suffolk SportsAid for their sponsorship.”

Having finished second in the National Cyclo-Cross Series and third in the National Championships last year at Under-14 level last season, Robinson is preparing himself to be one the youngest in the U16 series later this year.

But although he will be competing against youngsters up to three years his senior, Robinson remains unphased. He said: “The age thing doesn't bother me at all. In cyclo-cross all of the age categories race at the same time and last season I finished sixth in the entire field at one race, beating some big, strong 15 year-olds.

“I'm still going to go for it this season and definitely want to be getting onto podiums.”

In a drive to keep his fitness high, Robinson - whose bike collection is now in double figures - has also been road racing over the summer season. This week he is competing in Assen, Holland to compete in an international event for the third year running, while later this year he has plans to travel to Belgium for competition.

Robinson said: “I try to go abroad to places like Holland or Denmark for the road racing because it is not as good in this country. In Holland they will close the road off and have police escorts, it is far more professional.”