Centring the career narratives of Black-British champion cyclists within the context of nation, nationalism and identity

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

This article provides attention to the lives of seven British/black champion cyclists who between them share a career span of fifty years. The backdrop is Great Britain’s emergence over the last fifteen years as a world force in elite road-racing and track cycling. It is a phenomenon which has spurred an increase of participation in road-racing and track cycling in Britain. The popularity of both as spectator sports has also grown. Cycling is now central to the British national sporting landscape. Many of the best British cycling athletes through their recent successes at Olympic Games have been celebrated by the public with a string of BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, and by the British establishment through honorific titles such as knighthoods, damehoods, MBEs, OBEs, CBES. Elite cyclists have been elevated to the statuses of national hero and heroines. They are now familiar to the nation as household names and as sporting icons. It is however also very observable that British elite cyclists of all disciplines be it road-racing, track racing, time-trialing; mountain bike, BMX and cyclo-cross are dominated and exclusively represented by white athletes. This article and the research on which it is founded presents on an interplay of the current popular discourses of road-racing and track cycling; nationalism; whiteness; ‘race’; racism; against the absence of British/black champion cyclists representing Great Britain at elite and international level. The methodological approach to this study applies narrative inquiry to capture the voices of the British/black elite cycling champions who articulate episodes of their career experiences. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews exploring their successes; their barriers; and their views on representation and identity in cycling. It assisted with examining the extent to which a racist regime of representation permeates elite cycling in Britain. Findings indicate that ‘Race’ and racism, past and present remain substantive generational concerns, in thwarting the opportunities and the potential of aspiring British/black champions in cycling.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018
EventBritish Society of Sports History Annual Conference - University of Brighton, 2008
Duration: 6 Sep 2008 → …

Conference

ConferenceBritish Society of Sports History Annual Conference
Period6/09/08 → …

Keywords

  • black British
  • whiteness
  • race
  • Racism

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