Emma Finucane has dreamt of a gold medal at the Olympics since she was a ten-year-old little girl riding her bicycle at the velodrome in Carmarthen. It is a dream a lot of young children have but one, which not many actually realise.
With the support of a loving family, academic staff at Coleg Sir Gar and her team and team mates Emma is well on the way to reaching the Olympics in Paris in 2024 competing in the cycling Keirin.
Keirin is a cycling cat and mouse strategy race around a banked track high speeds with the winner the first to cross the line. It originated as a betting sport in Japan and is still very popular there. It became an official Olympic event for men in 2000 and women in 2021. Riders use a brakeless fixed gear bike and can achieve speeds of up to 70kmh. The riders start behind a motorised pacer for s few laps to build up the speed.
We interviewed Emma on Thursday (Jul 20).
We began by asking Emma where her passion for cycling started.
Emma replied: “It started in Carmarthen in my home town. My parents took me down to the velodrome in Carmarthen and I joined my local club Tywi Riders. I was riding for fun and my parents realised that I was good at this. When I was 10 I went to the velodrome in Newport and that is where it progressed. I moved up to Manchester two years ago with Team GB.”
I have done a few Keirins at Carmarthen velodrome. I have done a few events there and they have recently resurfaced it. Loads of clubs have used it it is a really nice facility. I used to go there most days.
Cycling has become hugely popular in Wales. We asked Emma if she believed that there are enough opportunities for women in particular to get into the sport in Wales.
Emma said: “I definitely think there are more opportunities than before. There are more women coming into the sport. There can still be more opportunities and events put on to get women into sport.”
We asked Emma who or what was her driving inspiration.
Emma responded: “When I was younger I was inspired by Nicole Cook and when I got into sprinting it was Becky James. Her older sister Rachael James used to coach me for the Commonwealth Games for Wales. They are definitely two role models I have followed throughout the years.”
The margins for winning can be very tight. There are plenty of spills along the way too. We asked the Carmarthenshire cyclist if she worried about injury when she is competing.
Emma said: “I do especially when I first came onto the programme I had a few little niggles. I struggled a bit at the start. You see a lot of people in the sport who have a lot of injuries because of the gym. I have put it behind me and if I get an injury I have the right team around me and I am really confident with them.”
Sports stars have a short shelf life because of the immense effort and toll on their bodies. We asked Emma what she has as a back up when she hangs up the bike?
Emma said: “My coach is actually very big into this. Cycling is my job at the moment but she wants us to have a backup. I went to college in Llanelli and did my sports BT sports science course. They really helped me. When I moved to Manchester they facilitated that. I am writing a CV for a few jobs but I have not decided yet what I would like to go down the road of. Cycling is my focus right now. There are definitely avenues maybe coaching.”
The women’s Tour De France is getting better coverage now. We asked Emma if it were something she would like to branch out into, road racing.
Emma told us: “I used to be a road rider and endurance rider before sprint. I guess the coaches saw something in me to go down the road of sprint. I never say never to road racing. For now I am doing sprint and that is something I really enjoy. I love watching the Tour De France the mens and the women’s.”
We asked Emma if her family was proud of her career and if they followed her and waved the Welsh flag at events.
Emma said: “Bless them they have been a massive support for me. They took me to Newport each week which is about an hour and a half from Carmarthen. They are so invested in it. They follow me around. Last year they came to the Commonwealth games which was super nice to see. It was home in the UK. When I crossed the line I could see them in the crowd. They will be coming up to Glasgow in a couple of weeks time for the World championships. They are huge support all of them and I love them very much.”
We asked Emma what her main goal was in the sport.
She said: “I’d love to go to the Olympic Games but not only to participate but to win medals. I have been dreaming about that since I was 10 years old. We are currently focusing for the World Championships then full steam for Paris next year. There is a big group of us in Great Britain. It is going to be tough but as long as I do my best that is my goal.”
We asked Emma if she could offer any advice to young people looking to become the next Emma Finucane what would that be.
Emma said: “I’d say just get stuck in go down to your local velodrome, they will supply you with bikes. If you don’t like it you can try another sport,. Just believe in yourself and enjoy it, have fun.”
We asked the cyclist; Looking at the ten-year-old Emma do you have to pinch yourself going to the Olympics?
Emma replied: “It is a nice place to bring myself back to a ten year old Emma would be in awe of where I am now. It is a nice place to look back on. I love my job and it is nice that riding my bike is my job at the moment. My parents love that I love it. Crashes and injuries have worried them but they fully support me.”
Listen to the full audio interview here:
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