THERE is more than a hint of Graeme Obree about Jonny Wale.

Obree is one of Scotland’s greatest-ever cyclists but he is perhaps more famous for doing things his own way. Wale may yet to hit the heights of Obree’s success but he is equally single-minded and anti-establishment.

In an age where modern-day sportsmen and women are, almost without exception, developed within the governing body’s programme, Wale’s individualistic approach is a joy to behold.

The British Cycling programme churns out elite cyclists with almost boring regularity and if you are outwith the system, it is generally accepted that it is unlikely you will make it to the upper echelons of the sport.

Luckily, Wale failed to read the script.

The 26-year-old, who spent much of his childhood in Edinburgh but now lives in Buckinghamshire, has worked his way to the top of the sport entirely off his own bat and he has been rewarded with selection for his first Commonwealth Games, in Gold Coast, which begin in just four days.

The kilo rider has never before been included in any national programme and while most would see this as hugely detrimental, Wale is absolutely certain that had he been forced to be a part of a regimented training regime, he would not be where he is today .

“I wouldn’t have fitted into a programme - one hundred per cent not,” he says.

“It’s been better for me not to be. I’m bi-polar, so it’s very difficult for me to manage in a set-up. And the reason why I’ve not competed at a high level before now is I’ve always tried to fit the set-up.”

Wale’s inclusion in Team Scotland has allowed him to relocate temporarily to Glasgow and tap into the world-class facilities provided by Scottish Cycling.

While it has it has, he says, been a delight to have coaching input, video analysis and support staff on hand day in, day out his inclusion has not been entirely seamless.

“Scottish cycling invited me up and they’ve set me up in a house here for the past month - fully catered for, as well! It’s amazing for me to see what world-class facilities actually are,” he says.

“The funny thing is listening to everyone saying,’Oh, we’ve had to pack our own bike boxes…’ Mate, I normally have to book my own flights and everything.

“So this is luxury. It’s the first time I’ve had video footage of my training - I’m looking at it thinking ‘Ah, so THAT’S what I look like…’

“And I’m used to having one coach across 30 cyclists whereas here’s it’s one on one coaching.

“These guys have been told by a coach what to do for the past 10 years of their lives so they’ll very rarely turn round and ask why. But I’ve had a few arguments with the coaches here because I question everything.

“And if they’ve never been questioned before, it comes across as an arrogance from me, but no, the whole reason I’m here is because I did question everything.”

Wale’s journey to this point has been unorthodox, to say the least. He began his sporting career as a swimmer but when that didn’t work out, he switched to cycling. After realising that university was not for him, he worked as a fine dining chef in London for four years which was, he says, “ very cool”.

But it is his decision to take cycling seriously, and how he went about it that is fascinating. Rather than try to integrate himself into any existing set-up, Wale and three friends decided to go it alone and turned up to last year’s British Championships to find out quite where they were in comparison to the best in the country.

The results were somewhat surprising, even to Wale himself.

“We won the national championships two years ago, we literally just bumbled into it,” he says.

“We got the the final and we thought ‘f***ing hell, we’re in the final!’.

“And when we won it? We all just looked at each other and thought ‘Holy f***, we’re four guys who’ve done track for five weeks.’

“We posted a 4:04 which would have got us eighth in the Olympics. So we wondered ‘What could we actually do with 12 months of training for this? None of us had ever been on any national governing body programme or anything.”

Wale does not have the luxury of being a full-time athlete and so his day job is running his company WattShop, with his fellow rider Dan Bingham, which makes cycling products and does aerodynamic testing.

But Wale’s national championship victory prompted him and his teammates to take things somewhat more seriously and so they formed their own UCI trade team, which is when Team KGF was born.

After a somewhat inauspicious start, the team continued to surprise and impress as the months went by, with their most notable result being a victory in the team pursuit at the Belarus World Cup in January. “We started going to World Cups - and the first couple were a disaster,” he laughed.

“Normally for a national governing body, they’ve got every athlete in the country they can pick from. Whereas with us, we reverse engineered it - we had to change the way team pursuit was ridden. Rather than being one and a half laps, then change and so on, we radically changed the format.

“I’m a kilo rider, and what I do is one long mega-stint, then disappear. The whole approach his different and we’d never have been able to do that as part of a formal set-up.

“Because we’d have been drilled to believe ‘this is the way you ride Team Pursuit’. But we made our own rules.”

So extraordinary is Wale and Team KGF’s journey, a documentary is currently being made about the men. But for now, Wale’s sole focus is his performance in Gold Coast. He will ride only the kilo, but the fact that this is his Commonwealth Games debut has not dampened his ambitions in the slightest.

“Me doing the team pursuit was talked about but you have to be selfish at this point - I want to ride a kilo, fast,” he says.

“So I’ll be unhappy if I don’t get a silver medal. The last time I raced a kilo was the Manchester World Cup, and I came fourth in qualifying, did a 1:01.1. And in the last few weeks I’ve found 0.98 seconds in the first 500m so it’s looking pretty rosy.”