He began his university career at St Andrews in 1996, before transferring to Edinburgh University where he graduated in 1999 with an honours degree in applied sports science. His interest in cycling dated back to childhood and he first competed as a BMX racer between the ages of seven and 14. He was ranked the second-best BMX rider in Britain, and ninth in the world.
He said he first became aware of track cycling when he watched television coverage of Scottish sprinter Eddie Alexander winning a bronze medal at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.
In 1994, he joined the City of Edinburgh Racing Club.
His first competitive success came with a silver medal for the team sprint at the 1999 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
He went on to win six Olympic golds, including three in Beijing and two in London.