Published: 24 February 2013
Report: Scott Hobro at the Minsk Arena, Belarus
Images: Luke Webber
Great Britain’s Becky James powered her way to the keirin world title to celebrate a second gold medal in as many days as the track cycling world championships concluded in Belarus.
After fighting back to become sprint world champion on Saturday evening, the 21-year-old again showcased her abilities to collect another rainbow jersey.
It was her fourth medal, the first Briton to accomplish the feat at a world championships, in what has been a remarkable five days for the rider from Abergavenny, who also takes team sprint and 500m time-trial bronzes from the Minsk Arena.
There was also silver for Laura Trott in the omnium, her second medal, as Great Britain topped the medal standings with nine podium spots at the first step towards the Rio Olympic Games.
"Oh my gosh. I can't believe it. Wow,” said James, who was also a sprint and keirin double world champion at a junior level in 2009.
"After the second round I was feeling it in my legs and I really struggled getting up from the back. I just thought if I can get to the front, they're all going to have to come round me.
"I just wanted to build on it and try to defend the front. When it was a lap-and-a-half to go and Guerra and Vogel were outside me, if they don't go, I'm going to have to defend.
"I stayed as close to the red line as I could, making them go as far as possible. I just held Guerra there. It just worked out so well. I just thought 'if I can just hold her here then everyone else is going to have to come round the outside of her'.
"I was in so much pain, but I just pushed and pushed and I finished. And I finished in the front.”
Welshwoman James entered the last day of the competition with the chance to have medalled in each of her events after Saturday evening’s heroics rewarded her with the sprint world championship.
There were no signs of fatigue from the previous day for James in the opening heat, latching onto the wheel of Jinjie Gong and then powering past the Chinese rider to advance to round two and avoid a repechage.
Team sprint colleague Victoria Williamson was unable to progress with James, though the 19-year-old fought hard in both round one and repechage, in each only missing qualification by a single place.
In round two, 21-year-old James was positioned fifth coming into the final lap but manoeuvred a gap on the back straight, driving forward to come across the line behind Cuba’s Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez to ensure the chance of another medal.
With five days of racing in her legs, a determined James took the lead position behind the derny for the final and on the bell held the inside line and managed to accelerate through to the line, the first British rider to take home both titles since Victoria Pendleton in 2007.
Elsewhere Laura Trott was also pursuing a second gold. Integral in Great Britain’s defence of the women’s team pursuit, reigning omnium champion Trott had held third position coming into Sunday’s final three events, five points adrift of the USA’s Sarah Hammer.
Third place in the flying lap and yet another win in the elimination race combined with 10th in the points race placed Trott in bronze position after Saturday.
The individual pursuit got proceedings underway and third for Trott saw the gap to first extend to seven points as Hammer won in the discipline she had already been crowned world champion in earlier in the week.
A bunch sprint finish in the scratch race again saw the 20-year-old Briton take third, moving her into the silver medal position. With Hammer fourth it left a six-point gap with only the 500m time-trial remaining.
There Trott placed two spots ahead of Hammer, fourth to the American’s sixth, confirming silver for Trott who ended four points away from gold.
"I wanted to win them both [team pursuit and omnium] again, but I tried my best and a better rider beat me on the day,” said Trott, who won both in Melbourne last year and at the London Olympics.
"I am really happy. Silver medal at a world champs is still pretty good. I normally leave it to the 500m [time-trial]. I came here hoping I wouldn't do that. The points race let me down again. She beat me by seven places in the points race and overall by four."
She added that she plans to seek the help of Great Britain coach Chris Newton, a former points race world champion and Olympic bronze medallist who oversaw Simon Yates’ world championships win in the event on Friday.
"I am definitely going to focus on it now. Chris Newton is going to help me learn how to ride, just like he helped Yatesey. I can only try.
"It's that points race letting me down. I haven't really sat down and worked out how to ride it. My main focus is team pursuit and getting that right.”
It would be points race world champion Yates who partnered Owain Doull in the Madison for Great Britain. The duo executed a conservative approach in the early stages, taking two points in sprint four of ten in the 50km, 200-lap race.
But France, Germany and Spain gained a stranglehold on the race and after taking a lap on the rest of the field the medal places were sealed with France taking gold.
There was no Great Britain representation in the final four of the men’s sprint following Saturday’s eliminations of Jason Kenny, Matt Crampton and Philip Hindes.