INSPIRATIONAL Peebles man Sandy Gilchrist is heading for his ninth Olympic Games – this time representing Ireland’s cyclists as a mechanic. 

The 75-year-old enjoyed a hugely successful cycling career winning and competing in numerous competitions including the Peace Race, Tour de L’Avenir, Milk Race and World Championships, not to mention 60-odd Scottish Championships, 14 Scottish Hill Climb Championships and nine Tours de Trossachs. 

As the head mechanic for British Cycling, Canadian Cycling, Scottish Cycling and Cycling Ireland; Sandy has worked multiple events and athletes that entrusted their bikes to him include Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins. 

He has also worked with Specialized as a professional bicycle mechanic for their Global Racing team working with the mountain bike riders as well as triathletes.

After many years of owning a bicycle shop in Edinburgh, Sandy returned ‘home’ to Peebles where he can regularly be seen cycling the surrounding roads.

After undergoing regular temperature checks and COVID tests, Sandy flew to Dublin on Thursday to join his team-mates and will then travel to Japan via Heathrow, a journey that will take around 17 hours including lay overs. 

After returning from a 30-mile bike ride to ‘clear his head’ before the trip, Sandy told us: “I’m really looking forward to going to the Olympics with Ireland and believe that there is a chance of bringing back medals. 

“Because of COVID you have to follow lots of rules, tomorrow will be my fourth test and that’s before I even get on the plane.

"It’s just a shame that there will be no spectators and I feel for the athletes for whom this is the pinnacle of their career and deserve the accolade of fans.

“I’ll be in Japan from July 17 till August 10, but I won’t be coming straight home after that as I’m heading to Montreal then Edmonton for other events.”

Despite the hectic schedule, Sandy has no plans to retire from the sport he loves. 

“I always said that I’d retire if I stopped enjoying it or it became too stressful and that’s not yet. In fact, I received an email this morning asking if I was free to go to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with Scotland next year.”

When not travelling the world, Sandy is loving life in his home-town.

“Peebles has so much going for it with roads and mountain bikes, in fact I would describe it as a haven for cyclists,” he added.