Hosking: “I hate the media-trained boring athlete”
After a gold medal ride at the Commonwealth Games, Chloe Hosking enjoyed three days off the bike… but soon got “itchy legs” and felt the urge to exercise again. RIDE caught up with her for 10 minutes before a rock climbing session in Canberra.
There was one quote from a cyclist at the Commonwealth Games that certainly caught the attention of many. “People say for road cycling Commonwealth Games isn’t that big a deal,” Chloe Hosking said immediately after winning the road race. And then she dropped the F-expletive live on morning TV: “But you know what? I’m Commonwealth Games champion and it’s a big f—ing deal.”
You probably heard it on Saturday and, if you missed it, you’ve probably read about it since. So, we asked after Hosking had three days to reflect: what sort of stirred the passions for you to come out and drop that one?
“I just wasn’t thinking,” she replied. “I’ll be honest. There was so much going on in my head: I’d just won the Commonwealth Games, I hadn’t seen my family, I wanted to see my family, they were rushing me to the media, and then I didn’t even realise it was live.”
Hosking doesn’t mind being outspoken. She has a habit of telling it how she sees it. And although she regrets the F-word use, she also acknowledges that there are worse things that could happen. When explaining how it happened, there was a small pause, a little giggle and a follow-up comment: “So. Ah. Um. Yeah… look, there’s definitely a little bit of regret there. I’ve seen some people say their kids were watching and I should ‘stay classy’ – or whatever – but I also hate the media trained boring athlete so at least I can’t be accused of being that.”
Some Commonwealth Games aficionados may recall the reaction from Jay Sweet when he won the men’s road race in 1998. He didn’t wait for a question, rather he unclipped from the pedals and dismounted and let everyone know what was on his mind: “F— yeah!”
That was live too. But there wasn’t Twitter 20 years ago. It happened. It was raw emotion and it certainly strayed from media training requests.
Photos: Cycling Australia.
Hosking may have received more media attention for use of a rude word but, obviously, she believes that the Australian team’s performance on the Gold Coast warranted coverage, not just her swearing.
“I was confident,” she said about the 112km race. “But I was also the favourite and, you know, it’s nevereasy to win a race when you’re the favourite.
“So, there was definitely a lot of nerves, a lot of pressure, and I worked really hard leading up to the event knowing that that was going to be the case. I was able to deal with that on race day.”
She thinks the efforts of the team highlighted another aspect of cycling that all who follow the sport are aware of even if it’s something that needs to be explained at times when races are broadcast to a wider audience of general sport enthusiasts.
“I hope that’s not the lengths we have to go to all the time,” she said about swearing live on TV and getting additional coverage. “But I also think that my post-race interview would still got a bunch of media because of the way we rode. It was such a strong, dominant show of teamwork – and I also think that was the fantastic thing about the event: we showed people why cycling is a team sport.
“It really highlighted this issue that only one person gets a medal; I think the media were probably more outraged at that than me swearing on national television at 10.50 in the morning.”
In Canberra for a week before setting off for another race with her Alé-Cipollini trade team, she talked to RIDE Media before going up a wall at a local climbing gym. It’s not exactly the kind of training her coach has asked of her but she’s pleased to be back doing some physical activity after a little hiatus from riding.
“I jumped on a mountain bike and rode over to a rock climbing gym,” she told me. “I don’t know if my coach will be too happy because he always says, ‘We want less arm muscles.’ I didn’t do much the last two days and I started to feel those itchy legs so I needed to get out and do something today.”
A few days have passed since her gold medal winning ride and Hosking has not yet seen how it came across on the TV broadcast but her vision of how it looked has been replayed a number of times in her mind.
“It was a phenomenal team ride and I think probably the best that the Australian women have ridden together in a long time,” she said. “I actually want to watch the race because, obviously, being inthe race you see it all unfolding in front of you. But in my head it looked so good – so I want to see if that transferred to the TV images.
“I was really lucky to be surrounded by five super-strong girls and for all of them to buy into the team plan.”
She was the protected rider and the plan came together. Despite her status of favourite, Hosking had the sprint required to finish ahead of New Zealand’s Georgia Williams and Danielle Rowe from Wales.
From a small field of 49 there could only be one winner. Hosking got the medal but it was thanks to the efforts of road race and TT national champions Shannon Malseed and Katrin Garfoot, and a trio of other well credentialed Aussies: Gracie Elvin, Tiff Cromwell and Sarah Roy.
“The team had a really different vibe around it this year,” said Hosking.
“There have been so many changes at Cycling Australia. We’ve got a new coach, we’ve got a new high-performance director… and it was also a different mix of women.
“They brought us all in fairly early. We were all in the village a week before our event, so it was quite a long time to train in the area, to train together, to eat together, to do yoga together… there was a lot of team bonding and it all came together on race day. Everybody had their role, everybody knew their role inside-out, and everybody else knew everybody else’s role – I think that made us more accountable to each other. And it worked really, really well.”
– By Rob Arnold