RIDER NEWS: Bunting selected for Olympic Programme

Sheffield’s hotshot junior Cycle Speedway rider, James Bunting, has been chosen as one of the Olympic apprentices for both road and track.

The 15 year old, who was born and bred on the shale in Sheffield, spoke to 33/18 News about his monumental achievement, what it took to get it, and his plans for the future:

James began racing Cycle Speedway as a 10 year old. In his second year, he became British Youth and Junior League U12 champion, immediately underlining his potential. In his third season, he became U13 British Indoor champion. The year after, he was u14 British Youth and Junior champion. It was here he got a taste for success.

Although Cycle Speedway will always be where it began (he still goes along to watch his sister, Sophie Middleton, when he can), he wanted to make a career out of cycling, so began road and track racing.

This was a big adjustment from CS for James, but the key skills he needed were still the same. Shortly after beginning, James started getting noticed and now has been selected as one of the few Olympic apprentices, a goal he’s been aiming for since he started.

When asked how it feels to be on the road to the Olympics, James said: “Absolutely amazing, I’m still trying to take it in to be honest, it’s something that I was aiming for but never actually believed would happen!

“I owe a lot to everyone that’s helped me from my first training session at Sheffield CSC, my dedicated family who run me all over the country, and all my coaches that worked with me to switch cycling disciplines.”

We asked James if he feels CS aided his development: “100%. If it hadn’t have been for Cycle Speedway, I probably wouldn’t have found my love or talent for cycling, I was made on the shale and it’ll always be where I began!

James on the road to Olympic success?

James on the road to Olympic success?

“When I was training to win my CS British titles, I would spend hours over at Graves track in Sheffield, training and training even on non training days. This dedication to training, I believe is what’s got me where I am!

“Also, I’m one of the few sprinters that’s upcoming through the programme, most are endurance riders, my natural ability for sprinting was revealed through Speedway.”

On advice he’d give to other young aspiring riders, James commented: “Like I said, I never thought I’d be where I am today, but hard work and dedication will pay off if you’re prepared to put the work in! Listen to your coaches and don’t treat any aim as being out of sight.”

James (right) after his BYJL U14 nationals joint win, with Ipswich's Harrison Bacon.

James (right) after his BYJL U14 nationals joint win, with Ipswich’s Harrison Bacon.

James will have to discuss with his coaches and see what availability he has, but he hopes to travel with Sophie and have a short comeback to Cycle Speedway, to compete in Australia in the U16 worlds if they go ahead.

Inspirational stuff from the Sheffield youngster and his words are certainly worth paying attention to if you’re a young rider reading this. We look forward to seeing James’ progress, and hopefully seeing him at the Olympic games in the not too distant future!