Five years ago, Putney’s Billy Gilbey watched on as the world’s finest cyclists took to the boards at the Olympic velodrome in his home city.
Fast forward to the present day, and the now 14-year-old is winning medals of his own at the Lee Valley VeloPark, having first becoming hooked on cycling when the Olympic Games captivated a nation.
On Friday, Gilbey – a pupil at Whitgift School – enjoyed his own golden moment when he triumphed in the Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix, winning the Youth Under-14 race by just 0.01 seconds.
Taking place on the VeloPark’s outdoor circuit in the shadows of the velodrome, the Grand Prix incorporated more than 40 minutes of racing on a one-mile lap.
And with dreams of one day enjoying his own Olympic journey, Gilbey is relishing the opportunity to take to two wheels where it all began.
“This race used to be on the Mall, but I actually think it’s better at Lee Valley, because this is where the Olympics happened,” said the VCL rider.
“I got into cycling from watching the Olympics in 2012. I was actually meant to go and watch the rowing, but then our tickets were changed, but I’m really happy they were changed!
“I remember there being just an awesome atmosphere. It was so fast and they all looked so skilful.
“When I was watching them in the velodrome, I always hoped that I would do it myself, but I couldn’t have imagined it.
“I’d love to become professional one day. I definitely want to go to the Olympics.
“I really want to get into the GB Senior Academy in the future, and that’s where you have the opportunity to get into the team pursuit squad at the Olympics.”
And while Friday’s race proved to be a tricky one, Gilbey couldn’t have been more delighted with his performance.
“It was a weird race, because it was really fast on the straight because of the tailwind,” he said.
“Everyone was trying to go off the front, so it was a very attacking race.
“In the final two laps, it was quite slow with everyone jostling for positions, and it was quite choppy to be honest.
“I’m really, really happy to have won. It’s a big race with lots of cameras! And of course, winning is winning.
“I was feeling pretty nervous before the race. I get nervous before every race but it was quite exciting as well.
“I think the whole Prudential RideLondon is awesome. It’s so well organised, and there’s great music and a great theme.”
Nicola Adams OBE cycled with students and teachers from the educational charity Teach First at Prudential RideLondon as part of the PruGOals programme. For further information on PruGOals visit www.prugoals.co.uk