"To be perfectly honest, I hated it," Alex Spratt said, recalling the first track-sprint session he ever did in March 2017. "I was so lacking in confidence, both in my ability and in what I was doing: riding round, winging it, thinking I was going to come off at any moment," he said, practically squirming while recalling the not-so-long-ago early days of his track cycling career. But, less than a year after that treacherous first lesson, Spratt finished fourth in the sprint event at the 2018 National Track Championships. The former rugby player then won at the Good Friday Race meet at the Lee Valley velodrome in London with a sub-10 second flying 200m, and went on to compete at the 2018 Six Day London later in the year.ADVERTISEMENT Already this year, Spratt has picked up another fourth-place finish at the track Nationals, despite a family bereavement only weeks before. Not only is the story of Spratt's rise to national and potentially Olympic contention remarkable – what's just as astonishing is how few people know the tale. Spratt, 29, from Fulwood in Preston, went to Kirkwood Grammar School, which is known for producing rugby talent. He played the game from five years old at Preston Grasshoppers, and the whole way through school. Then, in his final year, while on trial for the Barbarians, his shoulder popped out of its socket while making a tackle. He carried on, but it happened repeatedly, to the point where he simply had to give up his career aspirations.
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