This weekend sees the sports spotlight in the Midlands region as Coventry host the British Championships this Bank Holiday. But before then Leicester and Birmingham are busy getting themselves ready for the pre-qualifiers and other category finals.
With Birmingham holding the first round of qualifying events we caught up with double British Champion Andy Angell. The Hull and Sheffield rider talks to us about his previous stirling performances as well as looking ahead to this weekend.
How does it feel to be double British Champion? Do you feel any pressure going into this weekend?
It’s hard to describe how it feels! It’s a feeling that is unique, a feeling that only you can feel at that time, a little like passing your driving test I suppose! Every time you are announced as ‘ the British Champion ‘ at the track it brings back the wonderful feelings from winning the championship! Pressure for this weekend? Of course there is pressure, everybody who truly wants to win the championship will feel pressure, either they will know about it or they won’t! Pressure is dealt with totally different by different people, sometimes pressure can destroy you, or sometimes it can only push you forward! I had the pressure last year, this year I think not so much as last! But until you wake up on the morning, and are sat on the gate for your first race it’s hard to tell!
In 2011 you won after a dramatic finale, how did it feel to be crowned British Champ and did it take a while to sink in?
It felt amazing, after working so hard and dreaming about it for so long, it felt incredible!!! and took some time to sink in, it took a lot longer to sink in then the celebratory beers, lets just say that!!!
Last year we saw you take the crown again at a wet Newport. If you had to compare both years which one felt the sweeter?
The first is always the best, I said after the meeting that if I only win the one or I go on to win 10, no others will feel quite like the first one! However the second one last year was actually probably sweeter, as it completely removed the ‘ referees decision ‘ factor, and proved I was good enough to win it I guess! So I think I preferred the Newport final!
This weekend people will be looking to see if you can make it three in a row. Have you prepared differently this weekend compared to a normal race weekend?
Yeah, I have had a rubbish season by my standards, things haven’t been clicking! Something has been missing from my performance, and I have struggled through a rather rough patch! It’s hard, week in week out to be at your best, the down side of being British Champion is that you are there to be beaten, every champion is there to be beaten, and if the people who beat me are like I was when I spent years chasing the British Champions, it’s a fantastic feeling when you do manage to beat one! I can’t comment on preparation, as that’s something I have lacked this season, but time will tell! I always aim to be at my best for big championships, however I wasted too long this year messing about, not working at my normally hard level, so time will tell!
Birmingham, Leicester and Coventry host the qualifying and finals this year, are these tracks that you feel comfortable on and enjoy?
Yeah I get on with the tracks, Birmingham isn’t my favourite, but a track is the same for everybody! Leicester is always a place I’m happy to race at and might end up with a few rides there as well, time will tell! And Coventry? Fantastic track, brilliant shape, and amazing banking, a real fast racers track! The final will be spectacular I believe!!!
Coventry have done a lot of promotion for the weekend, with Cycle Speedway not in the limelight like other cycling sports this can only be a boost for the sport?
I think it will be yes, hopefully it will push the sport forward! I know Coventry have HUGE plans and the team there are working very very hard to make this day a special one! I think it will be a day to remember!!!
Looking at your draw on Saturday you have some opponents in Semi 1 how do you think you will fair?
Again we can only wait and see! I am happy with the draw, and hopefully can have a problem free day! Previous winner Lee Aris is a formidable force at any championship with his strength on the bike, and Tom Reed also in the mix is possibly one of the most talented riders in the sport! His bike control is second to none, and I hope to see him in the final come Monday!!! Also my stars team mates Jamie Ball and indoor National Champion Ryan Hoyland in there for good measure with some promising youngsters, could be a tricky one to tackle!!!
Looking at the whole field who would you tip to either win the title or be up there challenging to pick up the trophy?
Paul Heard has had a fantastic two seasons, with his silvers in the euros and last years British, and has been in fine form this year, he is due a white shirt soon, so could this be his year??? Mark Boaler has obviously put a massive amount of effort in this year and its evident, I raced against him a week or so ago at Horspath, and it seems he is back at his best! You can never discount Lee Aris, I’m sure he wouldn’t turn down another white shirt! Mould back from suspension, Mark Carmichael is riding well and is a very consistent rider, and I think home track man Mykey Grimes could cause a few surprises and would like to see him in the final on Monday! As I’ve always said, if your good enough to get to the final, you have a chance of winning it!
Are there any riders that we should look out for who could be an outsider?
Myke Grimes, and my pre tournament surprise man Gavin Parr unfortunately couldn’t enter the competition, would have been great to see him in full flight in a British Final!!!
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to lift the British title?
Work hard, not just racing, but gym work doesn’t go a miss!!! I honestly don’t think I’d have won one British title without my training, infact I know I wouldn’t have! And on the day you have to find the right balance between nervous and excited, get that right, and it’s game on!
We would like to thank Andy for his time in answering the questions and wish him good luck as well as everyone else competing. The qualifying heats at Birmingham’s Perry Park track begin at 12noon on Saturday 24th August. It is free to watch with programmes and food and drink on sale during the afternoon. Everyone is welcome!