Published: 23 February 2013
Report: Scott Hobro at the Minsk Arena, Belarus
Images: Luke Webber
Great Britain’s Becky James produced a fantastic fight back to become world sprint champion and collect her third medal at the track cycling world championships in Belarus.
The 21-year-old battled superbly from a heat down in the final to beat Germany’s Kristina Vogel 2-1 and celebrate her first rainbow jersey at a senior championships.
James succeeds Victoria Pendleton who triumphed in Melbourne last year and also keeps Great Britain at the top of the medal table with four golds in Minsk.
The achievement follows bronze medals in the 500m time-trial and team sprint for the British sprint champion, who has the chance to add a fourth medal in Sunday’s keirin.
“I can’t even describe how I am feeling right now,” said an emotional James.
“It’s just not sunken in. I didn’t think about it being Vogel who I was riding against because I have never beaten her before. If I think about the rider too much it messes with my head so I thought of it being another race, don’t think about it being in the world championships just that I wanted to win.
“I stayed really calm, did my thing and came away with a gold medal.
“I had targets in my head and I wanted to get top eights in everything and I didn’t know who was here and what form everyone else had but to be stood on top of that podium tonight is such a good feeling.”
Wins over Cuba’s Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez and Australian Kaarle McColluch on Friday had paved the way to the semi-finals for the former junior sprint and keirin world champion.
China’s Shang Guo was next and in the first heat James successively elected to lead out from the bell to go one up in the best of three tie before decisively diving down the track in their second meeting to undertake Guo and take her place in the final with a minimum return of a silver medal guaranteed.
Team sprint world champion Kristina Vogel awaited and it was the German who took the first heat in the most marginal of photo finishes.
But James struck back in the second , rounding Vogel who had opted to lead the heat out to set up a decider for the championship. In an almost carbon-copy of the second heat, James attacked from a lap out and determinedly saw the race out to the delight of the Great Britain pen and travelling support.
In the men’s sprint, new keirin world champion Jason Kenny, Matt Crampton and Philip Hindes failed to progress to Sunday’s last four with Kenny ending in seventh.
He had earlier qualified seventh in the flying 200m, teammates Philip Hindes and Matt Crampton 19th and 23rd respectively as all three progressed to the 1/16 finals.
A tactically astute ride from Matt Crampton saw him end German Robert Forstemann’s participation as Kenny saw off Czech Pavel Kelemen, though Philip Hindes exited to Stefan Botticher.
Crampton then fell at the 1/8 finals to Simon Van Velthooven and cast into the repechage was unable to win a place in the last eight.
Kenny held off a robust challenge from Hindes’ conqueror Botticher in his 1/8 final but would be thwarted in the quarter-finals. New Zealand’s Sam Webster took both heats to end the 24-year-old’s championship aspirations, Kenny going onto the 5th-8th final.
"There's not a lot more I could've done," Kenny said.
"There's just no firepower in the legs at the minute. I got stuck in, gave it my best shot, but I'm a little bit disappointed with the lack of speed I've turned up with this year. It was amazing to win the keirin yesterday, a dream come true.
"I'll get my head down and try to work hard and make sure next year I can win a few more."
Fresh from the defence of Great Britain’s team pursuit crown, Olympic and reigning world omnium champion Laura Trott began her defence of the title.
Third in the flying lap had given the 20-year-old a solid platform before 10th in the points race demoted her to fifth overall, six points adrift of leader Sarah Hammer.
But in her signature discipline the elimination race she again excelled in victory to cut the deficit to five points going into Sunday.
British Cycling Academy rider Jon Dibben concluded his first world championships experience with the last three events in the men’s omnium.
The Southampton-born rider was 11th overall after day one but quickly took to the task of improving his ranking.
Fifth place in the individual pursuit in a time 4.28.674 aided his cause prior to an outstanding win in the scratch race.
Lively throughout the 15-kilometres, Dibben eventually gained a lap with Jasper de Buyst and then found the energy to oust the Belgian in the last lap. Twelfth in the final event, the time-trial, placed Dibben eighth.
“In the omniums I always go better in the second day, this competition is no different and I got some results I’m really happy with today and yesterday as well,” Dibben said.
“I think the events [on the second day] suit me more, the individual pursuit I’ve always been quite good at that. The kilo normally suits me though just then it didn’t seem too and the scratch is quite simple racing, they’re my favoured races.
“I didn’t have anything to lose. I was in a good position going into it because the top three medals where pretty much decided so they were just watching each other and I was just in the group of riders where the front lot wouldn’t be watching them and the back lot weren’t watching them so I knew if I got in the right move I could get a result.”
Dani King ended a busy week at the Minsk Arena with eighth in the points race. The 22-year-old won team pursuit gold on Tuesday and had gone onto compete in Friday’s scratch race, finishing sixth.
Despite picking up points regularly during the 40-kilometre race, an early lap gain would be pivotal in deciding the podium culminating in gold for the Czech Republics’ Jarmila Machacova.