Published: 3 July 2012
Words: Simon Powers
British Cycling Academy sprinter Becky James is excited about getting back to racing ahead of this week’s U23 European Track Championships in Portugal. Furthermore, after an enforced break from the track due to illness, she is enjoying a welcome return to form.
Shortly before departing for Anadia, Becky told us: “I’m really looking forward to going to the Under 23 Championships as it feels such a long time since I last raced. I am going to race all the sprint events not just the Team Sprint, so it should make for a pretty busy week.”
James will be defending the title she won in the Team Sprint at the same event and at the same venue twelve months ago. Then she competed in tandem with Jess Varnish, who this year is heading to the Olympics, so Becky teams up with Victoria Williamson this time.
Becky then competed in the Senior Track Nationals in September 2011 followed by the third round of the 2011-12 UCI Track World Cup Series in Beijing. However, shortly after that, illness intervened.
Becky explained: “The last time I raced was at the world cup in Beijing last January. After that I suffered appendicitis and wasn’t back on the track until April. After a big training block now, though, I’m ready to get back to racing. Each track session that I have had, I’ve been progressing. Beginning back in April, it felt like I had to start with the basics again because I felt like I had lost so much. After a hard few months though, in the last two weeks it feels as though my form has returned nicely.”
“This time it will be me and Vicky [Williamson]. Vicky will go off first and I will be in position number two just as we were at the World Cup in January. It will be great for us to get back to racing as a team after a silver in the Team Sprint together two years ago as well!” That medal came at the European Junior Championships in Russia."
In addition to her selection for the U23 European Track Championships, Becky and fellow sprinter, Ross Edgar, have been nominated for the reserve places – known as “p” (i.e. provisional) accreditations - for the GB Team at the Olympic Games this summer. This means Becky will continue to race and train as normal but she could compete at London should something prevent Jess Varnish or Victoria Pendleton from taking part.
“A few months ago I didn’t expect anything really. To be selected as part of the team is really great. I will just be in Manchester in case anything should happen, which I honestly hope it won’t. But I’ll be training hard so, if it does and I get that call, then I will be ready.”
The London Olympics will see Victoria Pendleton’s swansong as an athlete. For Becky and her Under-23 team-mates this means there will then be a vacancy to be filled. Becky is full of enthusiasm for the opportunities opening up for her, particularly in the Team Sprint: “I’d definitely like to take that role on. Jess has concentrated on the role of man one and made it her own so hopefully, I’ll be able to do the same with man two.”
Above all else, she seems glad to be back racing again: “I just want to get some more racing in. After London, I’ve got Senior Track Nationals in September then the World Cup Season will be upon us again so, it’s looking to be a busy winter for me.”