“HAPPY HEAD, HAPPY LEGS” – AN INTERVIEW WITH GB TRACK CYCLIST, JACK CARLIN
British Cycling’s Jack Carlin talks on his time training in lockdown, his mindset, and Tokyo Olympic ambitions.
BY HENRY PARNELL
April 30, 2021
Currently living in Manchester with his girlfriend, and an old friend Gus – a fellow Scot and British Cycling mechanic – GB Track Sprinter Jack Carlin has been competition-less since the Track World Championships March 2020, where he gained a silver medal in the team sprint and a 4th in the Kierin.
The year out of competition, and many months out of the training structure he has become accustomed to, has resulted in the formidable, and rather unique challenge for the 23 year old Paisley native - preparing for a debut Olympic games from his back garden.
A ten day break after the World Championships allowed enough time for a quick trip to Spain for some golf before beginning the final Tokyo Olympic prep. However, rather than waiting on selection for any of the three events he specialises in - Team Sprint, Individual Sprint, and the Kierin - Jack returned home and went almost immediately into the first UK Lockdown. Far from making final adjustments for the Games, mid-March’s activities took the form of loading a squat rack into the back of a van and setting up a patio-gym for the for-seeable future.
Over the ensuing months, ‘working from home’ for an elite athlete, took the form of squatting under a tarp and sprinting a track bike down the A6 during his permitted 1-hour exercise. The lack of structure, physios, team-mates, and even social-life that Jack had become accustomed to in the 5 years he has been with Team GB, has – understandably – taken its toll.
“To be honest I’d have really struggled with A; motivation, and B; just getting through day-to-day training sessions. Without Gus, I’d have really struggled through the first lockdown… I went through about a month of just ticking a box”
“Mentally, I think I declined quite quickly” Jack tells me, candidly opening up on the obvious disappointment of the postponed games. “British cycling is so heavily Games focused… we never bring the absolute best we can until the Olympics.”
An enormous focus on The Games is part-and-parcel of being a member of Team GB - the Olympics are valued above all other competitions. To come within months of becoming an Olympian and racing in Tokyo, to then face what was initially an indefinite period of home-training, is a blow to even the admirably resilient Carlin.
Other events, as prestigious even as the World Championships, simply aren’t top priority, training is tapered precisely over the famous ‘4-year-cycle’ in order to allow the athletes to peak for The Games. “Sacrificing those - for a games that didn’t happen - was hard.”
Jack’s own personal frustration at being unable to compete is balanced with a healthy view of the bigger picture:
“In my bubble it’s all ‘Olympics, Olympics, Olympics’, but if you step outside the velodrome, people are dying…. Another year is not going to hamper me, I’m only getting better and better at the moment… if it’s another year on, that’s not the end of the world.”
Despite the challenges presented by his year of lockdown-training, some highlights have un-expectedly arisen as a result of having the time to solely focus on training.
“Training-wise I’ve actually been going well, gym’s going really well, I’ve put on a fair bit of muscle… I managed to work up to 220kg back squat, the only reason I got that up was the fear of dropping it and it going through my patio. I’ve got stronger than I’ve ever been…
…when do we ever get the opportunity to just train for a year? There is only so much you can do in those little blocks between racing to become better. I can honestly see the Olympics next year having phenomenal times and achievements through every sport because everyone’s just been literally head down and training as hard as they can… there’s nothing else to do.”
Keeping things balanced and in perspective is characteristic of Jack’s approach to training, and to life in general, with happiness top of the agenda. “I can only give 100% when I’m mentally happy” he tells me, before citing one of his favourite stories to back up his own philosophy; a rumour about Usain Bolt eating chicken nuggets before his 100m final – which he subsequently won - at the 2012 London Olympics.
“The hard part is done at that point, it doesn’t matter what you do on that days in terms of the build-up, if you have one bad sleep before it, it’s not gonna ruin your chances… that (Usain Bolt story) might well be true, it’s about keeping your head happy - you’re the best you can be, physically, nothing is going to stop that, what is going to stop you is not being mentally your best.”
“Don’t pass off every opportunity, find the balance. I know when I can go and have a pint, I know when I can go away with my pals on holiday and say ‘I’m not an athlete for a day’…”
Jack’s laid back and humble demeanour plays an essential role in his success, after all, this is a man stepping into the shoes of cycling gods, and he hasn’t got there by accident. His calm and collected philosophy is balanced finely with the rugged, competitive fire that you would only expect from a man racing on a team with the likes of 6-time Olympic Champion, Jason Kenny, and following the footsteps of GB’s most successful Olympian – not just cyclist – ever, Sir Chris Hoy.
Final selection for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is in May, and Jack is confident that he will be be selected for all 3 of his events. Before mentioning his ambitions for the coming Olympics, and the rest of his very promising career, Jack’s under-stated attitude breaks through once more - despite the immense pressure of Team GB’s relentless pursuit of gold, getting to the Olympics is the first step:
“First of all, we’ve got to get there, and I want to be there in the best form I can be, with all my health, and COVID-free, and be at the Olympics and be an Olympian…
…But I do want to walk away with at least a medal or two… preferably gold….
… I think within the squad, we might lose sight of the fact that any medal is a phenomenal achievement. But it’s good pressure, if you’re not here to win then why are you here?”
I’m Daisy Newton, aka 'danewty'. I’m 20 years old, based in Manchester, U.K. I originally started to draw ‘handsy hand people’ to escape from reality due to a major loss within my family. Now it’s my pride and joy! My drawings are inspired by everyday life such as conversations, my moods, my feelings and emotions, both good, bad and silly; this is all alongside my witty sense of humour.
Can you introduce us to ‘Cacti’ and tell us a little bit about your inspirations behind starting your business?
"It all started as an idea when I was working at a natural health shop in London during my time at university, there were so many new vegan products, but most were still packaged in plastic. That’s when I started doing my research and discovered the amazing biodegradable tubes that I use today. As well as products that are made with high quality, vegan ingredients the ethos of CACTI is also to contribute to a more sustainable beauty industry. We currently have a popular lip care range and we’ll be expanding our products in the coming months to include a facial oil & a selection of face masks."
What made you choose the name ‘Cacti’ for your skincare brand?
"The name of CACTI Skin came from my love of tropical plants and the benefits of using nature in skincare. It made sense because a cactus retains moisture in the driest of climates and that’s what the aim of our products is to provide moisturise and keep skin healthy!"
Out of your lip balms and lip exfoliators which is your favourite? Or is it impossible to choose?
"It is difficult to choose a favourite. They all have such amazing ingredients and benefits in each product, and I use them all depending on which one I fancy that day. My current favourite is the cocoa orange. I love the sweetness and the delicious smell of the cocoa butter!"
On your site your ethos includes ‘vegan’, ‘cruelty free’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘kindness’, can you expand on a few of these?
"I wanted the ethos of CACTI to be completely transparent and to the point and I believe these words represent the brand and our aims perfectly. Before I make any decision or take any opportunity, I ask myself if it aligns with all 4 of these values and I find that it keeps everything aligned because after all, being vegan & sustainable is at the heart of the business."
How has the pandemic affected you as a small business owner?
"I actually launched my business in January of this year, so quite far into the pandemic. Originally, I started selling my lip balms in 2018 but I ended up putting it on the back burner for a while as life took over. The pandemic actually gave me time to think about what I want to achieve and what I want to offer so it was a big inspiration for me to take the leap and pursue my passion again. I think the uncertainty of the past year gave everyone a new sense of gratitude for the small things in life and that was certainly the case with me so I’m grateful that it made me recognise my dreams again."
Finally, if you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
"If I was to give advice to my younger self it would definitely be to believe in yourself and your vision. Everyone has something completely unique to offer the world and I think it’s important to spend time developing your confidence so that you have no doubts going after your dreams. Everyone has fears, the key is to do it anyway."
My name is Mikaela RIvero. I live in Uruguay which is a small country famous for its mate and barbecue. I am a graphic designer, I worked in advertising for a couple of years and I currently work as an illustrator and designer in a studio called @vexels. I really like geometric and simple shapes.
i called him up and asked about you
we talked for hours, like old friends do
so in i walked, to your house of love,
like a demonic cupid, damned from above
satan made these lips so red
veil of the shadows
hide this love from the reaper
let us clutch
to our straws of affection
and with our tender talk
we’ll lie to each other;
for there never were
than those of
he’ll come for us and we will run
I am Burcu Köleli. I am from Turkey and I currently live in Tacoma Washington.
I am working as a multidisciplinary designer and artist. I work with both traditional and digital mediums.
I am a passionate intersectional environmentalist and feminist. I care deeply about our planet, our society, and mental health. I aspire to use my work to communicate social and environmental issues whilst spreading joy.
My art aims to be as inclusive as possible. By using bold, vibrant, and empowering body-positive woman figures; I defy and challenge what society expects of women’s bodies and sexuality. I include elements from nature in my compositions to underline the connection we have with nature.
ENTERTAINMENT SNIPPET: 5 FILMS & SHOWS TO WATCH IN MAY
BY HARRY MEMBREY
Awards season 2020-2021 is now officially over. What has undoubtedly been the weirdest, often most deflated year for the entertainment sector in our lifetime is now behind us. April’s Oscars ceremony saw records broken, copious awards handed out, and elaborate speeches made.
But as it ushered out a turbulent year it also ushers in a new one, a year that could see normality find its footing once more. Aside from most of the Oscar-nominated films being made available now via streaming like Prime Video’s Judas and the Black Messiah and Sky’s Promising Young Woman, there’s plenty more stuff to see that doesn’t feel like it’s been part of the entertainment zeitgeist for a bit too long.
So with that in mind we can start looking towards the best of Spring, a rejuvenated bloom of movies and shows to get properly stuck into. So here are the 5 biggest and best movies and series being released in May that you definitely need to see.
NOMADLAND, 30TH APRIL: DISNEY +
It might not actually be released in May, but Nomadland has been on the radar for a long long time, officially taking home Best Picture at the Oscars and appearing on one of these lists before. It was the bookies’ Oscar favourite all year round, my prediction for the best movie releasing in 2021 and the bookies were dead on. Perhaps I could be too?
Nomadland stars Frances McDormand in a role that provided her with a whopping third Best Actress Academy Award. She plays a woman who loses everything in the Great Recession and so embarks on a vast journey across the American West to live as a nomad. It’s a film that won three Oscars and, therefore, is certainly worth seeing.
Apparently watching it is like receiving the perfect hug. That sounds like a movie worth seeing to me.
MONSTER, 7TH MAY: NETFLIX
As well as starring Westworld and James Bond’s Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson and BlackKklansman’s John David Washington, Monster tells the story of a seventeen-year-old film student whose world topples upside down when he’s charged with felony murder. This Sundance Film Festival selection follows his dramatic journey through a complex legal battle that could leave him spending the rest of his life in prison.
At only 98 minutes long, Monster could well be a short and sweet exploration into the damaged morality within America’s judicial system. It’s certainly a prevalent subject right now and with such a talented and dignified cast behind a particularly luring premise it’s hard to ignore Monster as a serious post-Oscars stand-out.
LOVE, DEATH + ROBOTS 24TH MAY: NETFLIX
It’s safe to say that the first series of Netflix’s Love, Death + Robots was easily one of the most unique and distinctive original shows it has ever offered. It’s an animated anthology series of 18 short, sharp animated episodes ranging from 6 to 17 minutes in a Black Mirror-esque vein.
Each episode offers a completely different visual style that always adds richness to the story being told. Often, they’re horrifying. They’re always something you’ve never seen before. Volume two promises another mix of episodes dealing with at least one of the titular themes. It’s officially been renewed for an 8-episode season 3, so it’s here to stay and definitely worth getting in on the weird, wonderful fun.
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, 14TH MAY: NETFLIX
It’s another Netflix offering and I’m sorry to say that if you don’t have Netflix, the rest of this list will be a bit of a let down. But let’s face it, Netflix is a must-have right now.
The Woman in the Window is a psychological thriller adapted from the novel of the same name. It’s about Anna Fox (played by Arrival’s Amy Adams), a woman with agoraphobia, a fear of being in situations where escape or help wouldn't be available if things go wrong. Well, guess what. Things are gonna go wrong for Anna.
As she sits at her window comfortably watching the world go by she witnesses the neighbours do something unimaginable. The question slowly becomes; “what did she really see?”
ARMY OF THE DEAD, 21ST MAY: NETFLIX
No, Army of the Dead sadly isn’t a movie about The White Walkers. We’re finishing May off with a bit of fun. Zack Snyder, director of 300, 2021’s ‘The Snyder Cut’ and a few zombie movies like Dawn of the Dead is back making a genre mashup that looks like a pretty good laugh. It’s a heist movie, but it’s also a zombie movie.
The main character is played by Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista, a former zombie war hero approached by an ex-Vegas casino boss with the ultimate proposition: break into a zombie-infested Las Vegas to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault before the city is nuked in 32 hours. What does he do? Like the ‘Oceans’ movies before it, he gets together a team of expert zombie hunters-cum-robbers to take the challenge head-on.
Sure this probably won’t be up for any Oscars in 2022, but it’ll be a dead-good time. There’s a zombie-tiger there too.
BY LYNDA COATZEE FROM @MISSLULUSKITCHENUK
After a busy day, the last thing you want is to stand and cook for ages - try my easy to make Noodle bowl, great for the whole family or those late study nights when you just want to fill up with a quick and easy, healthy meal in around 15 minutes!
Ingredients (feeds 4)
400g medium rice noodles
400g ready cooked chicken
250g cooked king prawns
light Soy Sauce
Teriyaki / BBQ sauce
1 large carrot
bunch of spring onions
1 bag of baby corn
handful of spinach
2 chicken stock cubes
3 Tbsp. oil
Salt & pepper
Let's get cooking
In a large bowl, place the dry rice noodles and cover with boiling water.
Crumble over the 2 stock cubes and allow to dissolve by stirring gently.
Cover and let stand till soft - about 10 minutes.
While waiting for the noodles to soften, add oil to a pan and on a medium heat, heat up your chicken (this may take a little longer if frozen).
Chop your baby corn into smaller pieces and add to the pan with the chicken, don't cook this too long as you want this to be crunchy. Sweetcorn can be used as a substitute here.
Season to taste with Teriyaki or BBQ sauce of your choice, salt, and pepper.
Dish noodles up into your bowl and spoon in some of the stock to keep it moist.
Top with the chicken and corn, king prawns and carrot shavings (just done with a peeler down the length of the carrot)
Sprinkle over some chopped coriander, spinach, and spring onion.
Drizzle over some light soy sauce and more teriyaki / BBQ sauce to taste.
Georgia Ezell (@geeezie) is an artist and illustrator, and full-time college student based in Massachusetts. Her work tends to fluctuate between print and digital media; psychedelic art and still-life scenes. She also works as the creative assistant at House of Roses N The Dark, a Brooklyn-based non-profit that promotes art as a healing treatment for mental illness. Georgia is entirely self-taught, and does freelance design work upon request.