Track Sprinter and Team GB cyclist Lewis Stewart (18) is a home-grown talent making waves in the elite cycling world. Lewis, from Killearn, has hard-earned some impressive titles over the past while, becoming British junior champion in the keirin and winning bronze in the team sprint in the European Junior Championships. Lewis also came 4th with his team in the Junior Track World Championships in Montichairi, Italy 2017, setting a new British record.
The keirin, according to the BBC website (I had to look it up);
….”is a bizarre event, which originated in Japan. It features six to eight riders on the track instead of two. This is the bizarre bit: the riders follow behind a small moped-type bike called a derny. This derny paces the riders for the first few laps of the eight-lap race. It steadily increases speed before pulling off into the centre of the arena with two-and-a-half laps to go, leaving the riders to sprint to the finish. During the lead-up laps to the finishing sprint, the riders jostle with each other for the best position. But they have to stay behind the back wheel of the derny. With so many riders taking part in what is really a sprint race, there are often crashes on the final laps.”
Stewart has stepped up from Junior to Senior, and while he has some years of training ahead to match the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, he is making his way up the elite ranks.
Growing up in Killearn, Lewis attended both Killearn PS and Balfron HS, but to follow his dream of becoming the best, Lewis now lives and trains in Manchester having joined the big boys in British Cycling’s senior academy.
Linked Magazine caught up with Lewis for a quick lighthearted interview to get a better insight into our local hero.
If you weren’t an athlete, what would you want to be and why?
If I wasn’t an athlete I would most likely be at university. Having only just left Balfron High School in 2017, I still have a differed offer for an unconditional at Glasgow University for Neuroscience and Psychology. I think I would still be riding my track bike competitively with the Scotland Team, still chasing the dream of being a full-time athlete.
What made you get into sport?
My dad cycles and used to race when he was my age. So, he introduced me to cycling and racing. It was mostly racing and training on the road at first. However, when the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow was built that’s when I seriously took up track cycling. I’ve been racing track ever since then and that’s how I discovered that track was for me.
What inspires you?
Nothing different from any other athlete I suppose. Probably the dream of becoming Olympic champion and the journey and the people I will meet along the way. Ultimately, doing myself and the people around me proud.
Best part about growing up in the village of Killearn? And worst?
Killearn is one of my favourite places in the world. Growing up in the countryside was great. It gave me the freedom to explore and do pretty much everything else you want to do when your young. I was lucky enough to have a great group of friends and there was always plenty to do in the village to keep us occupied.
The worst part is having to take the bus to Glasgow. I hate buses and it takes so long!
What’s your favourite cycle training route in Stirlingshire, and why?
My favourite and most commonly used route in Stirlingshire includes the ascent of the crow road just outside Fintry and ‘the top of the world’ near Kippen. Typically, I will leave from my house in Killearn to the Crow Road via Strathblane and then ride to the top of the world via Fintry double back and head home for a well-earned rest! Such a hilly route is uncommon for a track sprinter as normally we hate any form of ascent but this is my favourite route because of the great scenery and quiet roads.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
By far the most significant accomplishment for me was at the Junior Track World Championships in Montichairi, Italy in 2017. I placed 4th in the team sprint with my friends and team mates Hamish Turnbull and Ali Fielding. We set a new British Record by over a second! This was such a great moment for us as we never expected to do so well and we achieved this as a team. Also, in the other races I finished 8th in the keirin and 14th in the sprint which I was very proud of. This meant I finished the season ranked 5th in the world for keirin and 7th for sprint.
You finish a training session, walk out of the door and find a winning £10 million lottery ticket. What would you do?
Firstly, I’d pay my parent’s mortgage and if they want, get them a new house. I always promised my gran I’d by her an immaculate Italian-job style mini if I had lots of money, so I’d get her one. Then the classic get a nice big house with everything and I need and some flash car. My favourite cars are Teslas so I’d get the most spec’d out Model S. Then probably travel for a year. I think I would still work and then just live my life after that and no longer need to worry about money or bills.
What do you do to relax when you aren’t training?
I love going to the cinema, I have a Cineworld unlimited card and there is one 5 minutes from where I live in Manchester so I at least go once a week.
What’s the most played song on your playlist?
I wouldn’t say I have a most played song but most played artists who are Bastille, Eminem and Rationale. Although, luckily at the end of the year Spotify tell you your most played song so my most played song literally is Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.
Who is your guilty crush?
Describe your life using film titles.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Fast and Furious
What are you known for among your friends?
Making up a lot of stuff
A word of advice to an old school teacher?
I feel like I’m not wise or old enough to give any advice to my school teachers yet.
Where is your favourite place to go when you are home?
My favourite place in Killearn is either the Glen on Beech Drive because you feel like you’re in a jungle, and it’s a really nice place, or the multi court at the primary school as when I was younger I must have played 100s of hour’s worth of football. It’s one of my favourite thing to do, to play football there.
What do you think of Linked Magazine & Business Directory – it wouldn’t have existed when you were in Killearn?
Linked magazine is a really smart idea, with local news and interesting articles all online. That makes it really convenient for phone or iPad, and it’s also saving paper waste. The business directory is a great way of promoting and finding local businesses.
(Thank you for the kind words Lewis – a brown envelope in the post, lol).