Callum Skinner, the Edinburgh-based cyclist who won medals at the Olympic, European and Commonwealth Games, has announced his retirement from elite level cycling.
The 26-year-old, who won gold medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and the 2014 European Championships in Guadeloupe, revealed that he had been battling poor health since the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Skinner has not raced since winning a bronze medal on the Gold Coast, and his decision comes with the Tokyo Games less than 18 months away.
Since April last year, Skinner has been focusing his efforts on issues such as governance, athlete welfare, anti-doping and LGBT rights and last month joined Global Athlete, a new organisation aimed at providing a greater voice to Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
In a statement published on his website Skinner, who grew up in Bruntsfield and attended James Gillespie’s High School in the Capital, wrote: “Today, I would like to announce I am calling time on my Elite Cycling career. It’s been a long and amazing journey, starting out in the cold of Meadowbank, Edinburgh in 2006 to peaking at the Olympic Velodrome in the team sprint at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016.
“My last competition and podium place was at the Commonwealth Games in The Gold Coast in 2018; it was great to finish on a high. Since that time, I have been on an extended break due to my health deteriorating.
“This has proved to be a very challenging time. Through seeking help outside the programme, and by the unswerving support of my friends, family and agent, I have made incredible progress and I’m pleased to say have almost fully recovered. “My focus and effort now lies in working in partnership with British Cycling to continue to make the athlete experience more human whilst still maintaining that performance mindset.”
Skinner, who spent ten years with British Cycling, took part in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and helped Scotland to a fourth-place finish in the team sprint.
He won his first medal at the 2012 European Track Championships in Panevezys, securing bronze in the team sprint but was denied the chance to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London after a lymphoma scare over a lump in his neck.
Skinner rose to prominence at the 2014 British National Track Championships, winning four national sprint titles in Manchester, followed by a first-place finish in the Kilo event at the 2014 European Championships in Guadeloupe.
In January 2016, Skinner and his team won the overall title for the men’s team sprint at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Hong Kong.
The 2016 Olympics in Brazil brought team gold and individual silver medals with Skinner and team mates Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes setting a new Olympic record as they defeated New Zealand in the team sprint final.
Skinner added: “Cycling has been very good to me, I’ve made lifelong friends and realised my dream for which I am eternally privileged. I appreciate that 26 might seem to many quite young to be transitioning away from the track, but I have never considered myself just an athlete; I consider myself far more than that. Cycling is my first love and it was the ideal place with the perfect opportunities to focus my drive to achieve great things.”
Skinner took up cycling at the age of 12, inspired to do so by Sir Chris Hoy’s achievements at the Summer Olympics in Athens in 2004. Four years later he was national youth champion, beat Hoy’s British 200m record for his age group and was the first recipient of the Chris Hoy Trophy, awarded to Edinburgh’s most promising young track cyclist.
He continued: “Now, I’m looking for a new challenge, my next Olympics. I want to build on the skills and perspective I’ve learnt and gained as a competitor over the last few years, and go on to greater things.
“As some of you will know, I’m particularly passionate about giving back to sport, using my profile for good, whether that’s in supporting the long overdue reform of sports governance, LGBT rights and encouraging people to get on their bikes.”
“Overall, I have had an amazing time at British Cycling and would like to thank my current and former; coaches, performance support staff and team mates for an amazing and unforgettable ten years. I wish them every success going forward.”