Speedway champion Tai Woffinden details heartache that fired him to the top and how he deals with internet trolls in new book

Speedway champion Tai Woffinden details heartache that fired him to the top and how he deals with internet trolls in new book

“When dad got sick, I mentally rehearsed everything. He’d died in my head like a hundred times. We’d been to hospital, we’d been to the funeral place, done this, done that, all that sort of stuff,” Woffinden writes.
“I used to lie in my bed, imagine that he had died and that I went to the crem and did all that, carried his coffin, spoke at his funeral. I’d been through it like two, three thousand times, so I mentally prepared myself for it. And it worked.”
At that point in his career, Woffinden had already won the British under-21 title and was being touted as a grand prix sensation, but there were questions. He had the talent, but did he have the single-minded commitment that hallmarks champions?
Woffinden looks back at the dark days at the start of the decade, when he faced a new season without his father. “He had always wanted to see the start of the 2010 season, that was his dream but he never did make it,” he says.
“When that happened, it was kind of like the turning point in my life, my career. It’s a shame it took my dad dying for me to grow up and do that. If he was still with us, would I have been a three-time world champion, or would it just have been a case of what if? Who knows.”
Woffinden’s book, co-authored with Peter Oakes, a former Fleet Street sports editor and now speedway’s foremost journalist, also provides a highly opinionated and often brutally frank assessment of his sport, and the people in it.
His chapter on racing rivalries, notably with Danish hard man Nicki Pedersen and fellow Brit Ben Barker, is said to have to been toned down by the lawyers but still offers a fascinating insight into how riders get on with each other – or in some cases, most definitely don’t.
There are also his thoughts on Britain’s international set-up, with Woffinden relating his astonishment at being told the team meal before a big meeting would be taken at a nearby kebab emporium.

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