First Senior Worlds for Junior Champ Becky James
Story posted March 23, 2010; by Larry Hickmott
Two days out from the start of competition, double World Junior Champion, Becky James of Wales, got her first glimpse of the track where she will be racing on Wednesday.
The young sprinter arrived on Saturday after flying out with the GB team from Manchester and Monday was her first track training day in Denmark.
On the way to Denmark, Becky found herself sitting between two Olympic Champions, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy.
She looked quite happy to help Jason Kenny with his crossword as they passed the time in the plane and why wouldn’t she having done so well at school recently. Becky is not just an ace cyclist but is also doing rather well at school which has been a double edged sword for her in the run-up to the World Championships.
As Becky is still at school, she is also having to live at home in Abergavenny (Wales) and that has restricted her training efforts. “It has been pretty tough coming from school and not getting a lot of track time” she explained on Sunday. “I am so looking forward to the Worlds though and getting the experience.”
Becky recently received news that she had an A in her Sociology school work, which is 40 percent towards her mark. But the school work meant she had to deal with pressure from two sides of her life as she explained. “There was a test in January and I was finding it really hard to fit my training in with all my school work. I was getting really stressed.”
“I found myself getting ill with the amount of work I had to do in everything I was doing but it all worked out in the end and I got the exam out of the way which was a weight off my mind.”
Living at home also means that to train for her discipline, Becky has to travel a long way to her gym in Cardiff and also the national Velodrome of Wales in Newport to get her track time. “Not having a coach in Newport (velodrome) has been hard going” Becky explained. “I kept in contact with Jan (van Eijden) a good few days a week so at least we were able to talk about my training a lot.”
“The travelling though is the worst. To go to the gym is 75 miles a time and then there’s the trip to Newport which is 20 miles each way. I got my new car a few weeks ago and it’s already done 2,000 miles driving back and forth to Manchester and training and stuff.”
So it has not been the best way to prepare for the Worlds but her team, as does Becky, realises how important the school work is and these World Championships are more to give her the experience she needs which will be invaluable to her in the next two years as she strives to make the team for London 2012.
Becky will be racing the 500 metre Time Trial on Wednesday where she will make her Senior World Championship debut and then the blue ribbon sprint event, the Match Sprint later in the week. One of the things Becky has already had to deal with though is going from being the best in the world (junior) only six months ago to starting afresh in the senior ranks.
Becky's first laps of the track in Denmark for the World Championships
“It is a big step up from winning medals as a junior to being just outside the top 10 as a senior” she says. “I have to realise though these worlds are mainly about gaining experience at the moment and doing my best. By doing that, I hope to progress up the ladder to the top again. It is difficult to come back down from being the best because winning World and European titles was a really good feeling!”
Being part of the senior team is also different to being part of the GB junior team as Becky has found out. She is now part of a lot bigger squad for a start which contains World and Olympic champions and a lot of them. Becky is also supported by a lot of people at the Worlds who she won’t know because she is yet to be based at Manchester and says smiling “I just have to find out what everyone’s jobs are!”
A rider’s first senior championship is always a nervous one as they step onto the track to see where they are in the world against the very best, many of whom she will compete against for a long time to come. It is a challenge Becky says she is looking forward to.
“I’m looking forward to everything this week” she explains “I want to see how everyone prepares themselves for the competition, what they do during the day, how they handle their nerves and things like that. I’ll be learning a lot from everyone who is racing.”
Unfortunately she won’t have her family there to cheer her on as they’re looking after her little sister who is recovering from an operation. But she knows it won’t just be her family who will be looking out for her but a lot of people in Wales who have got to realise they have a future star in their midst.
In the meantime, Becky, like all the athletes is biding her time stuck in the team hotel resting. What people may not realise is that the team hotel, which has lots of other teams in it, is very much like a ghost hotel as the riders retreat to their rooms and rest, and rest, and rest some more.
“There isn’t a lot to do” Becky says “and you just have to keep your feet up. That’s the whole reason we don’t go out sight seeing and things like that. It’s all about being either at the track or the hotel and resting up and being as ready for your races as you can.”
“Jess (Varnish, Becky’s roommate) and I don’t talk racing because we want to stay as relaxed as we can. I have brought over 20 DVD’s with me and we have got through quite a few already. Hopefully we won’t run out before the end of the week!”
Looking ahead to the Olympics in 2012, Becky says that she’s just taking everything a step at a time and seeing where it leads. “This is a big step stepping stone for me and hopefully the Commonwealth Games will be too. Sure, I would really like to get to London 2012 but it’s hard to say at the moment whether I will. I’m not even training full time yet which I am really looking forward to when I finish school in June.”
The signs are good so far as she progresses bit by bit to matching many of the best girls in the World and helping her is the best female sprinter in the world, Victoria Pendleton, her GB teammate. While the amount she improves is slowing down with each competition, Becky is pleased with her form and in her last competition, Revolution, she had a flying 200 metre PB for a ‘normal’ track like Manchester and did well in the Keirin too.
With her taper this week, Becky is looking to go even faster, at least in relation to the girls she is up against and we wish her all the best for a great week and one where we hope she finds her feet and starts to climb her way back up to the top again.
On the top step of the podium at the Junior Worlds. Becky has now moved up a level and is aiming to repeat that in the senior ranks.