There are not too many things that get Jack Carlin animated. But there is one subject that gets the most laid-back athlete in Scottish sport fired up, and that is talking about getting into a scrap, in the velodrome.

Despite Carlin’s languid personality, Scotland’s top male track cyclist turns into an entirely different entity as soon as he dons his helmet. 

The 26-year-old is not interested in an easy life when it comes to racing, he much prefers risking disqualification, broken bones and serious crashes than taking the more relaxed route of settling for second place.

This attitude has cost him dear more than once. But he is hoping it will lead him to becoming world champion on home soil, just a few miles from where he grew up.

“I absolutely love the scrap. To the point, though, that it often gets me relegated. But, despite that, I live for that scrap in a race,” he says. 

“That’s what I get a real thrill from – the adrenaline of crashing or nearly crashing, I love it. 

“When you put the helmet on, that red mist descends, you go into a different zone and you fade out everything around you.

“I’d rather finish a race knowing I’ve given it absolutely everything, whatever the result might end up being, rather than cross the line barely out of breath. 

“And I’m not scared of crashing – you slide, you bounce, you might break a few bones, but it’s all part of the sport. And I enjoy that feeling of chaos.”

Despite his relative youth, Carlin will be one of the most experienced riders wearing the GB skinsuit at the Cycling World Championships, which begin in Scotland in just 14 days, with the track cycling taking place at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow’s east end. 

It means Carlin will be, if past form is anything to go by, in the fight for silverware at the velodrome in which he began track cycling and which sits just a few miles from his home town of Paisley.

For someone who already has an impressive stash of major championship medals – he has the full collection of Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Games silverware – it comes as no surprise that Carlin has his sights set on adding to it at the World Championships.  

But despite his success on the biggest stages, Carlin has yet to win gold at a major championship, earning him the moniker of “the nearly man”. It is perhaps unfair to disparage someone who has achieved so much at a young age but Carlin can see why he has acquired the nickname.

He is not keen to pile pressure upon himself to break his gold duck next month, but he is in no doubt as to why he puts himself through the rigours of training each day.

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“I can understand why people call me the nearly man. But there’s two ways of looking at it – it’s better to be the nearly guy than the guy who never was. If I was to walk away from cycling now, I could hold my head high and know that I’ve achieved a lot within the sport. A lot of people walk away with nothing at all,” he says. “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved but I still want to do more. I wouldn’t be at these World Championships if I just wanted to make up the numbers.

“You don’t go into any race not wanting to win. I want to walk away with gold in Glasgow – that’s the same in any race. So yes, gold is the goal for me but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself – all I can do is stick to the processes and if it works out on the day, brilliant.”

Carlin’s season has been underwhelming for one of the best riders in the world. He departed the European Championships this year with just one silver medal in the team sprint but at the World Championships he is set to ride the individual sprint, team sprint and keirin, with silverware well within his capabilities in all three events.

And while typically, a World Championships in the year before the Olympic Games would not be a priority – peaking on the Olympic stage would usually be the primary goal – the fact these World Championships are a home event does, admits Carlin, change everything for him, as well as for all of his GB compatriots.

“I won’t lie, usually, the year before the Olympics, your main focus isn’t being at your best at those Worlds. It’s normally about getting yourself ripe and ready and learning from your mistakes for the following year at the Olympics,” he says.

“But this year, it’s on home soil and so there is definitely a different atmosphere from normal. It’s given me a goal and a focus and we’re all aiming to achieve a lot. So it’s different, but in a good way.”

Jack Carlin was speaking at the opening of the East City Way, which is part of Glasgow’s City Network and will ensure there are safe cycle lanes to all the Glasgow competition venues for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.