Pursuit of the Magic 50: Becky James snatches world keirin bronze
When Becky James failed to recapture her keirin World Championship title in London in 2016, some may have been left wondering what might have been.
Capturing double gold at the 2013 World Championships in Minsk as a fresh faced 21-year-old, the Briton had the world at her feet.
And while on the surface, double keirin bronze medals in successive World Championships in 2014 and 2016 showed elements of unfulfilled promise, in reality the picture could not have been more different.
In 2014 the Welshwoman had to have an operation after a smear test revealed cell abnormalities that had a high risk of developing into cervical cancer.
A severe, career-threatening knee injury soon followed, leaving the Abergavenny rider unable to even ride a bike until early 2015.
But when James lined up on the Lee Valley VeloPark in the London 2016 World Championship keirin final, the 2010 Commonwealth silver medallist treated the partisan British audience to a performance to remember.
Having qualified for the final through a repechage, the 24-year-old roared home to a podium place behind Germany’s Kristina Vogel and Australia’s Anna Meares – the owners of four Olympic gold medals and 22 world titles between them.
“It’s just absolutely amazing – I can’t believe it,” James said after collecting her medal from the podium.
“For me, to be back at my first Worlds, everything was a bonus after that, and to get a bronze medal is unbelievable. I can’t get my head around it.
“It’s amazing, at a home Worlds, it’s not very often they can come to watch me, so I’m a very happy girl right now.
“Having the support from everyone in British Cycling, all the coaches, medical staff, all my family as well, just saying they 100 per cent believe in me – that really got me through. It’s what got me through the last few weeks and it’s just so nice to see improvement finally.”
Vowing to return stronger than ever, James went on to secure double silver medals at the at the Olympic Games in Rio that summer in both the keirin and sprint before retiring to start her own baking business.
See the stars of British Cycling #BackToTheTrack at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark at the 2018 TISSOT UCI Track Cycling World Cup series between December 14 and 16. For tickets and more information click here