Vision Express

​Bryan Steel Academy steps it up a gear with ‘best team yet’

Press release   •   Mar 29, 2018 17:09 BST

Olympian cyclist Bryan Steel unveils new 2018 squad with backing from Vision Express

Now in its third year, the Bryan Steel Academy has officially unveiled a new cohort of cyclists for 2018, featuring, in the Olympian’s words, ‘its best riders yet’.

Following the Academy’s previous successes, the 2018 team is made up of the East Midlands’ most promising cyclists, eager to learn from a former Olympian.

Bryan Steel competed in four Olympic games, winning Bronze at Sydney 2000 and Silver at Athens 2004, as well as five World Championship medals. Now retired, he has dedicated his expertise to training the next generation of East Midlands champion cyclists through his eponymous Academy, which launched in 2016.

Meden College student Luke, who just turned 18, is currently balancing university applications with advancing his four year-long cycling career. He said: “I wanted to be involved with the Academy primarily because of Bryan’s experience and history – he’s an idol to me. This year, I want to learn more about racing and gain experience.”With backing from Vision Express and all-British cycling apparel manufacturer Godfrey Bikewear, the Bryan Steel Academy has accepted three promising young riders for its third-year intake: Luke Hind, from Warsop; Thomas Booth, from Hemington; and Karl Baillie, from Grantham. Bryan’s reputation and the growing reputation of the Academy, caught the attention of the riders, all keen to be a part of its success.

For Thomas, a 20-year-old accountancy and finance student at Reading University, cycling success runs in the family as his dad used to ride with Bryan. He said: “I’m looking forward to racing with lots of support and as part of a structured team, rather than being on my own.

“I really admire Bryan’s great history in cycling and I’m looking forward to learning from him and his experience as well as the other riders.”

Derby University sports science student, and experienced rider Karl Baillie, 20, has been cycling since he was 14. He commented: “I wanted to join this year’s team as it’s an impressive set up and Bryan is helping me work up to where I want to be. I’m aiming for general development across the board and improving in all areas, but my ultimate aim is to get a professional contract.”

Under David’s leadership, the 2018 team is rounded out by established Academy riders, Nottingham local Sam Smith, 19 and George Sewell, 19, from Old Dalby.Along with welcoming new riders, the Academy has also nurtured its longstanding members into new leaders. David Ogg, a 24-year-old graduate from Leicester, has been a part of the Academy since its inception and as new team captain, he is now responsible for drawing the best out of the team. “It’s great to have the new team members for this year,” he said. Offering his advice to the new riders he added: “Look forward to doing the bigger races and get involved in Belgium.”

The Academy’s growth is a huge source of pride for Bryan, who commented: “It’s always a special moment for me to launch our new team each year. From the beginning, I’ve wanted to help good and upcoming riders from across the area by taking them all the way and giving them the opportunities I had.

“This is the strongest team we’ve had by a long way, so we are aiming for big results this year.”

The ambitious team has a busy year planned, with a series of high profile races including the Rutland Melton Circle Classic, Beaumont Trophy, the London Nocturne, The Elite Series and the National Road Races.Since its inception, one Academy rider from each year is now competing internationally. Following success in Belgium last year, Pierre Vernié, who joined the Academy in its first year, secured a professional contract and is now racing in France. He follows original team captain Ross Lamb’s triumph, who signed a pro-contract with a Belgian team after his first year at the Academy.

Jonathan Lawson, CEO of Vision Express and a keen cyclist, said: “We’re very proud to show our support for Bryan’s outstanding Academy and the best of the region’s young cyclists. We wish the 2018 team well for what promises to be a strong and successful season.” 

About Vision Express

Vision Express is one of the largest optical retailers in the UK and part of GrandVision, the global leader in optical retail operating in more than 40 countries, spanning over 6,500 stores and online.

With almost 600 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.

With around 6,000 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charity Project and include:

  • Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
  • International Glaucoma Association
  • Macular Society
  • Stroke Association
  • Temple Street University Hospital
  • Brake