Great Britain’s Jess Varnish is thrilled to be making her return to the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after missing the 2013 competition due to a career-threatening back injury.
The 23-year-old London Olympian will join double world champion Becky James and Victoria Williamson in the women’s sprint squad in Cali, Colombia from 26 February-2 March.
“It was horrible to miss out on last year's worlds but I'm really, really happy to be in the team and off to Cali,” said Varnish, who suffered a damaged disc in her back. “I'm so excited about it and just looking forward to going out there and doing my best really.”
Varnish had been in strong form in the 2012/13 track season, winning two team sprint gold medals with Becky James in the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in addition to silver and bronze in the individual sprint discipline.
But a back injury suffered in the gym ended her campaign and forced her to spend four months off the bike, missing the world championships in Minsk, Belarus.
Now Varnish, whose only senior world championships medal remains a team sprint silver with Victoria Pendleton in 2011, believes she is close to full fitness ahead of the season finale.
“I think I'm just about getting to 100% but I think it's an injury I am just going to have look after and be careful with it forever really, I'm always going to be aware of it,” Varnish said.
“On the bike I am able to do everything now so that's a good start and it's just having a bit more confidence in my body really, in that I'm able to do everything on the bike.”
After returning to competition last July, Varnish won four titles in emphatic fashion at the 2013 British Cycling National Track Championships.
Bronze medals in the team and individual sprint at the European championships underlined her growing form as did team sprint silver at December’s round two of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
“The season has gone really well so far,” Varnish said. “Off the amount of training I did before it I wasn't really expecting it so I'm happy with how racing has gone but I'm aware that I'm going to have to step up to another level in Cali.
“I am going to have to be ready for that.”
Varnish is set to compete in the keirin and individual sprint at the Alcides Nieto Patino Velodrome with a decision on who will partner Becky James in the team sprint yet to be made. Victoria Williamson provides Great Britain’s other option for the man-one position, the 20-year-old took bronze with James last year in Varnish’s absence.
“The team sprint we will find out when we get there, as far as I understand it is the person who is going best when we get there so that makes perfect sense,” said Varnish, who spent the build-up to the London Olympics solely focussed on the man-one position.
“As the individual events go I have really only been focusing on the individual sprint but I am going to be in the keirin at the worlds so I am looking forward to getting stuck in and having a go.
“I have not raced the keirin in a world cup this year, I did a couple of races in the grand prix events (in summer 2013) and I have always enjoyed racing the keirin.”