Medal-winning cyclist Ethan Hayter still feels like he is “catching up” with rivals in terms of experience, his father Tim has said.
Hayter brought home the silver in the men’s Madison relay race with team mate Matt Walls on Saturday after a nailbiting 50 minutes that saw the duo slipping in and out of medal position.
Twenty-two-year-old Hayter’s heroic final sprint helped pull the pair up to silver.
His father admitted he was a little distracted towards the end “because my wife was screaming so loudly sitting next to me I couldn’t really concentrate”.
Mr Hayter, his wife Nicky and Ethan’s siblings Leo and Lucy followed the final from holiday in Sitges on the Spanish coast.
“We are elated, I think it is fair to say. It’s been a rollercoaster of a morning,” Mr Hayter said.
Hayter did not take up cycling until he was 14 – meaning he has six years’ less experience than 23-year-old Walls.
“Cycling is not like football or tennis where you need to start at five and six, because it is mostly about physical endurance and not so much about skills, so you can come to it late,” Mr Hayter said.
“But I think even now he still feels he’s catching up a bit on some of the guys.”
Mr Hayter said his son and Walls’s almost telepathic levels of communication in the deeply tactical Madison came from living and training together for the past six years.
He also admitted that in the early days, he had joined his son on his gruelling training road rides around their neighbourhood of Crystal Palace in south London.
“After a few months I realised I had no chance of keeping up with him so I gave up,” Mr Hayter said.
“He would be doing three or four sessions on the road (a week) at 14 and then track sessions.”
But as his son’s reputation has grown, Hayter’s parents are finding it harder and harder to watch.
“When he first started I loved going to watch races because I had no expectations, we just turned up and there were all these people that had been doing it for years,” Mr Hayter said.
“These days I find it very difficult to watch his races – there’s obviously pressure to get results, he wants to do well and it can be quite a dangerous sport.”
Last year, Hayter suffered a broken back following a crash during a road race in Italy and was out of action for a month, followed by another knock at the beginning of 2021.
“Quite often I can be watching a road race on TV and he’ll be on the floor and he’ll crash which is no fun,” Mr Hayter said.
“It’s thrilling when he does well but it can also be pretty stressful when things don’t quite go right.”
Mr Hayter was confident his son will be back fighting for TeamGB at Paris 2024, saying: “I am guessing he will think there is unfinished business in the Madison and in the team pursuit, they want to win to win gold.”