Gym and track training in the morning – or road cycling in the afternoon. This is the daily routine of Czech cycling sprinter Pavel Kelemen (25). The London Olympic Games participant still enjoys the fun of cycling. “You have to do it with your full heart,” he says about life of a professional track sprinter.
Thanks to being a professional sportsman he can travel and visit places, which he would have hardly ever seen otherwise. “Back when I was really young, I had to train hard, while my classmates had free time to play, however, I don’t regret it at all,” Pavel admits.
As he’s been on bike since the age of four, he can hardly remember the very beginning. First cycling memories step out of shadow with an early visit of a surgical ward in order to get his split chin sew up after some unplanned collisions.
Only a few people know that Kelemen started his career as a BMX rider. “In my opinion, BMX is absolutely the best introduction to cycling for kids, because it helps them to become familiar with bike handling. Both Sprint and Keirin belong to the contact disciplines where you need strong elbows, and that’s what you learn in BMX,” believes Pavel.
If he should explain the differences between a stage racing bike and his track racing special, he’d point out the frame that is specific to its intended use, with emphasis on rigidity and lightness. Unlike road bicycles, the track bike is a fixed-gear bicycle; thus, it only has a single gear ratio and has neither freewheel nor brakes.
If compared with stage cyclist, track racer must give out a full load of power within a very short time, usually only in seconds, while Tour de France participant needs to deal with his energy economically and divide it for a much longer period. “It’s very similar to athletics – 100m sprinters are rarely good in marathons, and vice versa,” Pavel says. Like any other sportsman, every track cyclist must be not only gifted but furthermore he needs huge amount of energy and well-trained dynamics.
In 2011, Kelemen finished eighth in the team sprint, together with Špička and Filip Ditzel, at the European Championships in Apeldoorn. A year later, he was nominated by Czech Cycling Federation for the London Summer Olympics, where he raced in the Men’s sprint. This year, he’s taking up another challenge as he heads to the Games in Rio. It was him who helped to secure the Czech team’s nomination the most. “I’ll try to do my best. As I did in London,” he promises.